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County Council’s budget building begins | News | The Press and Standard

by | April 28, 2016 5:00 pm

Last Updated: April 27, 2016 at 11:51 am

By GEORGE SALSBERRY
gsalsberry@lowcountry.com
The Colleton County Council got started on their preparations for the 2016-2017 fiscal year budget with a brief workshop session Friday afternoon.
With the Rice Festival activities going on downtown, council decided to hold their first workshop session at the Dogwood Hills Golf Course.
County Administrator Kevin Griffin began the meeting with a brief review of the revenue in the current fiscal year.
Griffin said there are improvements in the revenue generated in a variety of what he called ancillary areas this fiscal year, which ends June 30, “we are anticipating $500,000 more in revenue.”
When the county was estimating anticipated revenue, he explained, officials projected a total revenue of $24.4 million. When the current fiscal year ends, he said, revenue may total $24.9 million.
“Our revenue (in those areas), is looking better than we have in the past few years,” he said.
Griffin said that the county’s fiscal commitment to economic development is beginning to bear fruit.
The fee-in-lieu of payments for Crescent Dairy, Sarlaflex and the beginning stages of Meter Bearing have generated $117,000 in new revenue. “That gives us a little boost,” Griffin said.
Another bright spot, Griffin said, has been in the collection of motor vehicle taxes. “The auditor (Jeff Slocum) has done an outstanding job getting the bills out in a more timely fashion. We have seen a pretty marked improvement in motor vehicle taxes,” he said. When the current fiscal year ends, Griffin predicts the revenue generated by vehicle taxes alone will be about $55,000 above projections.
Slocum’s work to keep on top of the county’s Homestead tax revenue paperwork, Griffin added, saw that revenue from the state’s Department of Revenue to be about $120,000 higher than what was projected at the beginning of this fiscal year.
Griffith credited Colleton County Tax Collector Larry Lightsey for increased revenue in the area of delinquent taxes.
This fiscal year, Lightsey instituted the first delinquent tax sale on mobile homes the county has had in a number of years.
Lightsey’s work in the office, Griffin explained, translated into “a pretty decent increase, about $80,000 from where we were.”
Revenue from the fees collected by the Colleton County Magistrate’s Court will be up about $50,000.
In the 2015-2016 fiscal year, Griffin said, the Colleton Museum and Farmers Market produced revenue of about $20,000.
This year, with the addition of the commercial kitchen to the complex, it is anticipated that the facilities will generate an income of approximately $100,000.
After looking at the additional revenue generated in some categories this fiscal year, Griffin gave council a brief peek of what expenses loom for the county in the next fiscal year.
Griffin said the next fiscal year will see the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office implementing the state requirement that every sworn law enforcement officer be equipped with body cameras.
The purchase of those body cameras and the computer software needed to store the video, combined with other computer upgrades within the sheriff’s office, is expected to have a $500,000 price tag.
Griffin told council that there are two grant possibilities that will lessen the impact.
When the state legislature passed the measure that requires law enforcement officers to wear body cameras, legislators established a $3.5 million grant program to help underwrite the expense statewide.
Griffin pointed out that the details of how the money will be allocated have not been ironed out in Columbia.
The USDA’s rural improvement fund, he added, also has grant money available that can be used towards the purchase of body cameras, and the county will attempt to tap into that funding source.
Griffin then turn over the workshop session to Carl Coffin, the director of the Colleton County Memorial Library.
Coffin told council members that the library’s bookmobile is 20 years old and plans should be made to replace it. “We don’t know how long it’s going to last,” he said.
When the current bookmobile was purchased two decades ago, it cost the county $60,000. A new model will cost between $150,000 and $200,000.
Coffin said that he contacted the county’s legislative delegation in a search for state funding and found out there is none available.
He also pointed out that last year, the library was required to make cuts in a number of areas including personnel, and he asked council members to consider restoring those cuts as they prepare the budget for the next fiscal year.

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