Council wraps up budget requests

WINNSBORO – Council wrapped up its fourth budget workshop recommending several changes in agency allocations as well as a proposal to encourage the county’s elected officials to buy in to a merit based system of salary increase.

After considering agency requests and County Administrator Jason Taylor’s budget recommendations over the last six weeks, Council is looking at continuing to pay $15,150 for Behavioral Health Services’ annual audit. It will also begin paying $11,000 for the Council on Aging’s annual audit. Council will also provide lawn maintenance at Behavioral Health Services’ new facility which is not county owned. Councilman Billy Smith said the County generally only provides lawn maintenance for agencies occupying county owned buildings.

Of the $65,000 recommended by administration for Disabilities and Special Needs, Council is pulling out $19,000 DSN requested for a new van. Smith said he recommends withholding that amount since the agency still has several vans with low mileage.

No consideration was given to allocating $4,000,801 requested by Fairfield Memorial Hospital or $1,043,000 recommended for the hospital by administration. With the exception of the current rehab departments, the hospital is expected to shut down operations by the end of 2018 when construction of a new standalone Emergency Services facility is expected to be completed on the bypass by Providence Hospital.

The full $87,500 the County allocates each year for the Fairfield Chamber of Commerce was been placed in a holding pattern earmarked for tourism after the Chamber’s interim director failed to present a plan of action for the agency for the 2018-19 fiscal year two weeks ago.

“We’re leaving it in tourism for Council for a future date to decide how to allocate that money,” Taylor said.

“The latest word is that the Chamber has gone inactive, so it would not make sense even for us to allocate $25,000 at this point,” Smith said. “So we’re going to put that in a new line item right now?” Smith asked Taylor.

“The money will be there should the Chamber come forward with a plan that you all find acceptable. If it is not acceptable, then that money could be reallocated for another project to be tourism related,” Taylor said. [Note: since the budget workshop, the Chamber’s new interim director has submitted a plan of action that is being considered by the County.]

Looking at salary increases for county employees and elected officials, Smith suggested said he would like to see the county’s elected officials buy into a merit based system of salary increases.

“If elected officials buy into the merit based program, then we would give them a full three percent increase to be dispersed throughout their departments as they see fit. If they don’t want to do that,” Smith said, “then we’ll allocate two percent for them to be used across the board.”

Council is expected to vote on the 2018-19 fiscal year budget at the May 14 meeting to be held at 6 p.m. in council chambers.

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