Letter: Why is Fairfield County Struggling if it’s Under Budget by $5.9M?

Our leaders in the sheriff’s, EMS and fire departments need financial help from council. Salaries for the talented professionals needed to provide emergency services have fallen behind other county and state departments.  Many of our emergency vehicles are old with high mileage and we haven’t invested enough over the years to upgrade or replace them.

Here’s a suggestion for council.

Through April 2024, actual year-to-date revenue was $32.6 million and actual year-to-date expenses was $26.7 million leaving $5.9 million unspent (under budget). This is a huge amount.  I am assuming these numbers, posted on the county website, are accurate. With just two more months in the fiscal year, we should end up under budget by several million dollars. I suggest we put that money into our unrestricted reserves and then commit that amount over the next fiscal year for dealing with these emergency services issues as the top priority.

Based on the last audit of June 2023, we have approximately 4 months of operating expenses in the unrestricted reserves which should be maintained under this scenario. Council should work with the emergency services department leaders to identify their highest priority needs, develop a spending plan and commit to spending that additional reserved money for those needs.

And there should be enough money to deal with some of the other staff salary issues, and provide much needed additional funding for the animal shelter, much of which needs to be brought up to at least the minimum standards. This would certainly motivate the staff there who are doing their best working in very difficult conditions.

Several million dollars focused on these areas will likely not be enough to satisfy all the needs, but it would certainly be a great start.

What do you think, council?  First, I am basing this on the assumption that these numbers, posted on the county website, are accurate.

 If they are not accurate, then that is a different discussion we will definitely need to have.

Don Goldbach

District 2, Lake Wateree

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