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County Council, May 31

No surprises in next year’s budgets
Half cent sales tax collection higher than anticipated
Warwick Jones

It was almost a non-event. Yesterday’s special Finance Committee meeting was called to allow staff to present a summary of next year’s (FY2017 to June) budget. The presentation was short as was the subsequent discussion. And if there were a surprise, it was that there were no surprises.

Perhaps most importantly for most of us, there was no planned tax increase for the General Fund or for other funds. Revenues for the General Fund are projected at $216.3 million, up 1.6 % over those for FY 2106. Staff gave little detail about the composition of the General Fund budget though it did say that there would be an increase of 22 full time positions, taking the total to 2064, an approximate 1.1% increase. More information will be provided at the regular Finance Committee meeting tomorrow.

Viewers can see the projected budget figures for the major categories by pressing Download file

The Staff presentation also included a 5-year projection of the Capital Improvement Find of Environmental Management. Next year’s budget includes $26.1 million for the Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) at North Charleston. Staff projects another $2 million in the following year for the project. Council member Rawl noted that no increase in collection fees was budgeted for next year, but an increase was possible thereafter. Solid waste disposal has been a problem for the County since it closed the recycling facility on Romney Street and the price of recycled material has fallen sharply with the decline in commodity prices.

The encouraging note of the presentation was that the Transportation Sales Tax is bringing in revenue faster than anticipated. Though the total receipts are capped at $1.3 billion, the speedier collection is creating a surplus. In consequence, there will be more funds than original anticipated for roads and greenbelts. Mind, the balance will not be large relative to past spending but if we read the charts right, there will be about a $40 million surplus by 2021. Staff recommended and the Committee approved that $7.5 million of road funds be set aside for disaster related costs.

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