Budget Clears Second Reading

WINNSBORO – In spite of urgings from several citizens to table the matter until more information could be made available to the public, County Council OK’d second reading Monday night of an ordinance to establish the 2014-2015 budget. The reading passed with only Councilwoman Carolyn Robinson (District 2) voting nay.

Milton Pope, Interim County Administrator, said the maximum tax increase allowed by law this year was 1.46 percent, and while he said the budget was still in its preliminary stage, it included no tax increase and no new positions for 2014-2015. The County is converting the Workforce Liaison from a part-time position to a full-time department, Pope said, and the budget also comprises increases in health insurance costs as well as in fuel and vehicle maintenance costs.

The preliminary general fund weighs in at $25,665,917, up 12.87 percent from $22,693,036 in 2013-2014. With the addition of $7,629,997 in special revenue and other funds, which is a decrease of more than 30 percent from last year’s $10,905,568, the total 2014-2015 County budget sits at $33,295,894 – down 1.06 percent from $33,598,604 last year.

On the revenue side, the County is expecting to collect more than $3 million over and above what it collected last year to balance the budget. The sharpest increases come from court fines and fees ($487,000 vs. last year’s $368,000), state agency collections ($893,000 vs. last year’s $703,800), taxes ($22,482,117 vs. last year’s $19,015,020) and other revenues ($867,604 vs. $126,116 last year). The fund balance, meanwhile, is down from $2,019,300 last year to $300,811.

Departmental Highlights

County Council’s budget is up from $287,162 last year to $315,458 in 2014-2015, with increases in supplies and materials (from $1,850 to $32,950), contractual services (from $5,300 to $20,700) and travel (from $45,700 to $46,700). The County Administrator’s budget is also up from $257,486 to $367,845, with increases in personal services (from $237,166 to $282,325) and contractual services (from $2,200 to $67,900).

Human Resources sees its budget drop from $401,560 in 2013-2014 to $270,597 in 2014-2015, while Purchasing drops from $181,131 to $171,264 and Data Processing drops from $657,302 to $612,091. General operating costs are also expected to dip, from $2,710,379 to $2,120,954, as do funds for Building Maintenance, from $741,640 to $724,211.

The Tax Assessors budget is up slightly from $346,916 to $396,079, as is that of the Delinquent Tax Collector, from $156,225 to $167,880. Planning, Building and Zoning is also expected to increase, from $519,480 to $523,578, while vehicle maintenance costs are up from $193,451 to $197,713.

The budget for the Economic Development Department drops slightly from $138,682 to $130,126, while the Detention Center’s budget also dips from $1,753,958 to $1,712,380. Seeing increases are the Road Maintenance fund, from $1,487,782 to $1,513,933; the Solid Waste fund, from $2,079,413 to $2,118,852; Animal Control, from $230,293 to $232,650; the Probate Judge, from $146,693 to $151,239; the Tax Auditor, from $114,417 to $118,561; the Clerk of Court, from $308,999 to $314,655; Family Court, from $124,171 to $126,296; and the Sheriff’s Office, from $3,129,992 to $3,258,849.

Down somewhat are the County Treasurer, from $152,027 to $148,006; the Coroner’s Office, from $97,040 to $96,245; the Magistrate’s Court, from $438,376 to $431,555; Voter Registration/Election Commission, from $229,242 to $229,134; Veteran’s Affairs, from $124,250 to $105,307; and Emergency Management, from $715,227 to $698,143.

The Department of Social Services will see a slight uptick, from $67,600 to $74,837, while the County Allocations fund is up from $905,687 to $1,077,904. The Recreation fund is up to $888,679 from $796,691, while funds for the Midlands Tech Quickjobs Training Facility are down from $61,200 to $55,500.

Administration has moved EMS into the general fund for 2014-2015, adding $3,053,794 to the budget, while creating the Workforce Liaison Department adds $53,238.

Pope said another work session on the budget will be held May 5 to finalize the numbers heading into the third and final reading.

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