County Faces Shrinking LOST Fund

WINNSBORO (April 22, 2016) – In spite of speculation last February by a member of the state’s Board of Economic Advisors that the loss of Walmart tax revenues could trigger a property tax increase, Interim County Administrator Milton Pope presented Council last week with a recommended 2016-2017 budget based on last year’s millage rates.

“Based upon our budget recommendation, we’re using the existing revenues that we have,” Pope told Council during the April 12 work session. “We’re not requesting you to consider increasing the millage.”

However, Pope said, there would be some fallout from the January closing of the county’s largest contributor to the Local Option Sales Tax (LOST).

With the absence of Walmart’s contribution, Pope said the fund was expected to shrink by $497,444 – from $1,889,236 in 2015-2016 to $1,391,792 in 2016-2017 – a drop of around 30 percent.

Robert Martin, who serves on the Board that governs the S.C. Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office, told The Voice in February that it was unlikely that Fairfield County could maintain its then-current level of property tax relief without Walmart.

Moreover, he added, “I don’t see how County Council is going to get around increasing property taxes somewhat next year.”

But last week Pope told Council that while the allowable millage increase by law was 0.15 percent, the 2016-2017 budget was sticking with last year’s millage rate of 181.8. And while property tax relief is expected to diminish somewhat, Pope also said the fact that Fairfield County is a receiver county of LOST funds may help offset the budgeted 30 percent drop.

“There could be – could be – some possible cushion in those numbers,” Pope told Council. “We’ve gotten some preliminary numbers on this, but keep in mind at the end of the fiscal year, because we are a receiving county in the Local Option Sales Tax, if all of the counties statewide are doing well, we receive monies based upon the Robin Hood provision that’s in the Local Option Sales Tax law.”

How much cushion won’t be known until July or August, Pope said, when the 5 percent pool from donor counties is distributed.

General Fund Expenditures

Pope said general fund expenditures were up by more than $335,000 from last year – from $27,000,370 to $27,333,621. The biggest decreases in departmental spending come in the Fire Board’s general operations fund, down $102,446, and the Planning, Building and Zoning Department, down $63,687.

Other decreases come in the County Attorney’s budget (down $18,882); Human Resources (down $5,191); Purchasing Department (down $10,524); Tax Assessor (down $5,959); Vehicle Maintenance (down $4,422); Solid Waste (down $19,949); Veterans Affairs (down $9,830); Recreation (down $8,381); and the County’s Summer Youth Program (down $5,000).

The greatest increases come in the EMS Department, up $276,677; the Detention Center, up $214,541; and the Sheriff’s Office, up $118,392.

Other increases come in the Finance Department (up $23,709); Data Processing (up $47,332); Economic Development (up $66,819); Animal Control (up $25,257); the Treasurer’s Office (up $25,233); Magistrate’s budget (up $45,745); Voter Registration (up $38,976); and Emergency Management (up $50,038.

Overall, the budget is down a little more than 4 percent, with a decrease in special revenue funds and capital projects from $7,766,810 last year to $6,001,796 this coming year, for a total County budget that drops from $34,769,880 in 2015-2016 to $33,335,417 in 2016-2017.

Budget documents can be found on the County’s website at


Contact us: (803) 767-5711 | P.O. Box 675, Blythewood, SC 29016 | [email protected]