Council holds first of 3 budget workshops

WINNSBORO – During the first of three planned budget work sessions, Council took a conservative look at allocations it provides for agencies in the county.

“We’ve got to start taking a little closer look at funding given the situation we’ve had with V.C. Summer and the fact that we’re now looking at less revenue in the future than we had expected,” County Council Chairman Billy Smith told The Voice before the meeting.

Behavioral Health was the first to feel the pencil, with council suggesting reducing the agency’s usual annual allocation of $67,438 to $52,288. While the County has covered the agency’s cost for its annual audit in the past, Council Chairman Billy Smith expressed reluctance to continue paying for audits for this or any other agency.

The Council on Aging requested and administration recommended $104,912, an increase of $11,501 over last year’s funding of $93,411. Smith, again, pointed out that $11,000 of that increase is to pay for the agency’s annual audit, which he said he wants to stay away from.  Smith also noted that he saw no explanation for the $501 increase and would want to see that before funding it.

Fairfield Memorial Hospital saw the largest recommendation for reduction in funding, from $1,043,000 to $0.

“We do need to change this to reflect zero funding until further decisions are made regarding the hospital,” Smith said.

Council questioned a recommended $6,352 increase in funding for Midlands Technical College over last year’s approved budget of $158,810. Council members also had some discussion about reducing the $25,000 it gives each year to the railroad museum.

Council also suggested reducing the amount it gives Palmetto Citizens Against Sexual Assault ($9,285) by $1,285 and recommended reducing Sistercare’s funding from last year’s $10,000 to $8,000 this year.

Council let stand the administration’s recommendation of a $10,000 increase for Eau Claire Cooperative Health Center, bringing that agency’s funding from council to $60,000.

Heads of agencies considered for cuts will be invited to make their case to Council at the next budget work session which is scheduled for next Tuesday, April 17 at 6 p.m. in council chambers.