NEWBERRY — Newberry County Council approved a balanced budget for 2014-15 at its June 18 meeting, a budget that required some compromise with regard to requests from the solicitor’s office and other groups.
One was increasing a line item for the solicitor’s office from $101,867 to $116,867. Another approved was an increase to the Newberry County Literacy Appropriation Program from $4,260 to $6,000.
The budget for non-council salaries increased $12,000 and $3,600 was added for non-departmental vehicle repairs.
The budget also included a $15,646 increase in county administration personnel.
The county contingency fund increased by $100,000 from $77,803 to $177,803.
In an effort to be good stewards of tax dollars, the budget included expenditure reductions for animal services, public works heavy equipment, ambulance service, the coroner’s office, the assessor’s office and the sheriff’s office by line item deductions.
Other increases included a $3,500 increase to deputy coroner compensation; a $1,301 increase in Social Security expenditures for the coroner’s office; and and increase in the coroner’s budget for retirement contributions by $1,318.
The budget amendments passed and went into effect.
Council Vice Chairman Kirksey Koon voted against the budget amendments, saying he opposed several amendments to the budget, particularly the way the amendments were grouped together before the final reading.
“In my opinion the amendments should not have been bundled. We collect taxes for public safety, public works and administrative costs,” Koon said.
He said some of the allocations went to special interests groups, that however worthy the cause, were beyond that three-fold scope of county government.
“For instance,” he said, “the volunteer fire and rescue squads are just as deserving of compensation as people helping the coroner’s office.”
He said at a budget work session the county allocated approximately $88,000 to the solicitor’s office but the solicitor’s office requested more funding. Councilman Les Hipp proposed an amendment to add $15,000 more to the original amount as a compromise for solicitor funding.
“I could not go along with a $15,000 increase over what we proposed initially,” Koon said.
He said that no matter how beneficial the Newberry County Literacy Council is he considers it a special interest group and therefore could not vote on an amendment to increase its funding from $4,620 to $6,000.
“If the school district is not funding the literacy council (which falls under education) then why should county council pull money from the public safety, public works and public administrative costs to fund (education)?” he said.
The budget passed 6-1. It goes into effect July 1.