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County Council April 26

Budget process underway
Small increase in millage rate seems likely
Warwick Jones

Deliberations over the fiscal 2008 budget are underway. The financial problems confronting the County have been described in previous reports. The solutions have yet to be determined. Council met yesterday as the Finance Committee to hear staff proposals for some of the funds, but discussion was deferred to allow Council members time for consideration.

Most of the items before Council yesterday were hardly weighty. The exception was the Capital Improvement Plan. This was discussed at a previous meeting and reported by Charlestonwatch on March 16.

Wage increases and the new jail create the tightness
To recapitulate, the County faces a tight position as it goes into fiscal 2008. This tight position reflects the normal cost pressures but is exacerbated by a large increase in remuneration for Council employees following implementations a new compensation philosophy. Earlier this year, Council voted to increase by 3% the remuneration of employees who fell in the lowest quartile of the wage scale. It also proposed to make adjustments to reflect its move towards “pay for performance”, and a 2.5% cost of living adjustment for all employees. The total cost of the proposal was an estimated $6.1 million. The General Fund would bear the major brunt with an estimated share of $4.5 million. For the Capital Fund, the pressures reflect the need to build a new jail ($106 million) and complete the Azalea Complex ($33 million).

Millage increase likely
There is a good chance that a millage increase will be avoided in the General Fund. Council may choose to draw on unused funds in some accounts or cut back on some services. But the large borrowings – projected at $150 million - to finance the capital program will most likely require a millage increase. Staff has suggested an increase of 0.7 mills.

Request for all accounts
Council member Darby shook his head when confronted with the mass of paper before him. He asked whether Council could have copies of all accounts of the County in an attempt to put it all into perspective. Chairman Scott was sympathetic to the request but noted that the County, by virtue of Local Government accounting conventions, was required to create many accounts. Although it was possible to produce these accounts, it may not aid the total comprehension of the budget. He asked to meet Council member Darby and discuss what else should be provided.

Viewers may see summaries for the General Fund, and the Enterprise Funds - Solid Waste and Parking Garages by pressing.Download file Of course there are many other Enterprise and Special revenue funds. We will try to report on these as they come up for discussion.

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