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County Council gives second reading approval to budget

Posted: June 21, 2018 5:04 p.m.
Updated: June 22, 2018 1:00 a.m.

Kershaw County Council passed second reading of the county’s Fiscal Year 2019 budget during its June 14 meeting.
The total budget comes in at around $44,14 million and does not require a tax increase.

During the meeting, council members proposed, discussed and voted on several amendments to the budget. Some of these were more organizational/housekeeping in nature, such as an amendment proposed by Councilman Sammy Tucker Jr. to reflect the county’s fund balance policy, which restricts a portion of the reserve fund equal to three months of the previous year’s general fund budget for the purpose of cash flow, as well as an additional one month of the previous year general fund to respond to emergencies or disasters.

The fund balance policy itself, explained County Administrator Vic Carpenter, codifies how the county handles cash flow. That is, during the fiscal year, the county’s revenue collections fluctuate; some months see a deficit of collections vs. expenditures while peak months of collections bring in more revenues than expenditures. The policy basically ensures the county has enough cash on hand to pay its bills, Carpenter said.

Councilman Al Bozard asked if and how the amendment and the reserve fund policy would change the way council and the county does business. Tucker noted that the policy and his amendment codifies how the county conducts business.
Council approved this unanimously.

Councilman Jimmy Jones, who has been seeking ways for the county to help fund school resource officers(SROs), proposed a somewhat complicated amendment to restore the budget to its original form prior to amendments passed that evening, then amend that original budget to identify $305,000, $300,000 of which would go to fund SRO positions and $5,000 to provide for a raise to the county treasurer’s salary. Jones noted that the raise had been proposed, but cut in the 2018 budget.

The changes Jones proposed were as follows:

Increase the following:

• Cable franchise fee from $160,00 to $180,000

• Transfer from sewer fund from $0 to $150,000

• Road Maintenance Fee from $1.972 million to $2.002 million

• Traffic fines from $120,000 to $135,000

Decrease the following:

• Community Medical Clinic from $15,000 to $5,000 (which Jones noted is still an increase from $0 to $5,000 in funding from last year)

• Administration salaries from $262,000 to $230,000 (eliminating a program manager position)

• Fuel (Public Works) from $175,000 to $170,000

• Fleet maintenance from $175,000 to $170,000

• Supplies (rock) from Public Works from $200,000 to $190,000

• Postage fees from Family Court from $13,000 to $10,000

• Fuel (sheriff’s office) from $363,000 to $338,000

“This amendment will adjust the budget to allow $300,000 to be added to the sheriff’s budget for the specific purpose of adding as many new SROs as can be managed,” Jones said. “This amendment will also allow the increase of salary of the county treasurer by $5,000. This is the amount recommended last year by the administrator, based on a study of comparable salaries and a benchmark of other neighboring trerasurers. At that time, council removed it, and I am merely returning it to the amount requested last year.”

Jones pointed out that he had asked the county administrator to identify those funds and vet them to ensure the county could operate efficiently if the amendment were to pass.

Carpenter confirmed the county would have no hardship based on those projections.

Burns asked County Attorney Ken Dubose if the proposal is in keeping with Act 388, which the S.C. Attorney General has repeatedly stated prohibits counties from funding SROs from money generated from 4 percent tax (primary residence) funds.

Dubose stated that some of the funds do originate from 4 percent money and in his opinion, which he bases on that of the Attorney General, the proposal would be in violation of Act 388.

Council voted down the proposed amendment 2-5, with Jones and Bozard voting in favor and Arledge, Burns, Connell, Gardner and Tucker voting against.

A subsequent proposed amendment to raise the treasurer’s salary by $5,000, also made by Jones, did not receive a second.

An amendment, proposed by Councilman Dennis Arledge to transfer $103,120 from the sewer fund to the general fund generated some discussion.

The amendment called for $35,000 to go to upgrade a part-time deputy coroner position to full time; $21,750 to be allocated to outside agencies, including Camden 1st Community Development, Clemson Extension, KC Board of Disabilities, Kershaw Conservation District, Santee-Wateree RTA, ALPHA Center, United Way and Wateree Community Action (WCA). The remaining $46,370 would replace funds from the reserve fund to help balance the budget.

Bozard, however, had an objection to funding WCA.

“I had some people come to my house, standing in my yard, using my phone, trying to get those people (WCA) on the phone,” Bozard said. “They tried for 45 minutes and never got anyone. I tried and never got anyone, either … I won’t vote for this.”

Wateree Community Actions handles a number of federal programs, including Kershaw County Head Start.

Bozard also said he had heard similar complaints from other people in his district of general unresponsiveness from that organization.

Council Chair Julian Burns noted that the organization had previously failed to adequately provide information requested by council, but said he would contact the executive director and make the request again.

Several councilmen noted that council had dealt with similar issues with another organization, Santee-Wateree RTA, earlier this year.

Arledge said he had no objection removing WCA from the list of outside agencies pending further inquiry and information.

Council approved Arledge’s motion 6-1, with Arledge, Burns, Bozard, Tucker, Tom Gardner and Ben Connell in favor and Councilman Jimmy Jones against the amendment.

A subsequent amendment, proposed by Bozard, removed Wateree Community Actions from the list of outside agencies; that amendment was approved unanimously, with Tucker recusing himself because a family member works for the agency.
Councilman Ben Connell proposed an amendment to the capital budget to eliminate a $400,000 line item designated for the new park on the Wateree River and instead place that money in capital reserves. The idea, Connell said, is to make money available for the park or any other project council deems a priority. This passed 6-1, with Jones voting against it.

Tucker proposed an amendment to the capital budget to add $250,000 for the ALPHA Center to construct a new building, with restrictions that the remaining funds, which are to come from sale of the present property, state funds, and a fundraising campaign, be in hand before the ALPHA Center receives the county’s funds, the funds be used for new construction only, and the county funds be used within a 24 month period. If the 24 months elapse without the previous requirements being met and council has not made changes to the restrictions, the funds revert back to the county.

This passed 4-2, with Burns and Connell casting no votes. Jones recused himself from the vote because his spouse works for the ALPHA Center.

(For a complete copy of the budget, go to www.kershaw.sc.gov.)

Other business discussed:

• Council heard a presentation and request for a 5.2 millage increase to the Kershaw County School District budget. Tucker made a motion to approve a $2.62 mill increase which he suggested would provide funds to pay for three SROs for the high schools and a mental health coordinator position. Council voted this down 3-4, with Arledge, Gardner and Tucker voting in favor and Burns, Bozard, Connell and Jones voting against it.

• Council approved the budget, as presented for the Lugoff Fire District.

• Council passed second reading of an intergovernmental agreement between Kershaw County and Central Carolina Technical College (CCTC) regarding use and maintenance of the CCTC facilities in Camden.

Kershaw County Council meets a 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 26, in the County Government Center, 515 Walnut St., Camden. Meetings are open to the public. For more information or copies of the agenda, go to www.kershawcountysc.gov.

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