NEWBERRY — The proposed fiscal year 2018-19 operating budget is balanced, with totals for revenues and expenditures equalized at $24,930,250.
This proposed operating budget represents an increase of $960,360 over last year’s budget.
According to County Administrator Wayne Adams, revenue data, along with recommended spending levels for the upcoming year, indicate that fiscal year 2018-19 revenue requirements will be met with a slight increase, approximately 0.5 mills, in the millage levy for county operations.
“That is a big increase over the prior year, $960,360, where does that money come from is the obvious question. Only part of it comes through a millage increase, and it is a very slight mill part, one half mill. We estimate that about $65,971 of that total ($960,360) would come from the tax increase,” Adams said.
The majority of that increase comes from carried forward for special project.
“This money, $524,510, is money we will be using to relocate inmates in the jail to Laurens County, while we are doing our detention center renovations. Part of that also includes additional costs for staffing, another hour a day for the detention center workers to go back and forth,” Adams said. “That is coming form our fund balance, if we had to tax to do that, we would need four mills, and that is the maximum we could do under the law, and we still have other things we gotta do. So fortunately we have the fund balance to make that happen.”
Another part of the increase from last year’s operating budget comes real estate taxes, but not from an increase in the levy.
“We valued the mill for the current budget year very conservatively,” Adams said.
The current real estate taxes were estimated at $12,986,625 for fiscal year 2017-18, but the actual value was $13,279,332.
For the 2018-19 fiscal year, the top revenue sources will come from current real estate taxes($13,459,050), vehicle taxes ($1,974,719), local government fund ($1,484,603), fee in lieu of taxes ($1,053,766) and homestead exemption reimbursement ($989,790).
On the expenditures side, proposed expenditures for the new fiscal year is $24,930,250, which makes for a balanced budget.
Some changes in expenditures include a 2.5 percent increase in employee salaries. The employer portion for retirement contributions will increase from 13.56 percent to 14.56 percent for SCRS (regular employees) and 16.24 percent to 17.24 percent for PORS (law enforcement employees). This means the county’s contribution will increase by $185,000. PEBA has projected a 7.4 percent increase in the employer portion of health insurance costs, raising the cost of employee health insurance benefits by approximately $100,000 on an annual basis.
Appropriations for the 2016 CPST projects are included as well. This includes $250,000 for 800 Mhz user fees, $85,000 for 800 Mhz software upgrades and $70,000 for the county’s portion of the operating budget for the Newberry County Museum.
Other changes in the budget include $40,000, for the county’s portion, for a firefighter recruitment officer, an additional $16,500 for the Chamber of Commerce, which will include $10,000 for the leadership program and $5,000 for the Ag-Art Tour and $1,500 for electronic equipment.
The community service levy was also discussed. Three agencies are comprised of this levy, Newberry Disabilities and Special Needs, Newberry County Library and Piedmont Technical College. For the new fiscal year, total amount requested was $1,190,673. County administration proposes the following NDSN $34,142, Library $458,869 and PTC $424,213.
Personal appearances were made by representatives from the Library and Newberry County Health and Human Services, to request changes to the proposed budget.
Sam Ziady, director of the Newberry County Library, along with Jeff Smith and Dot Bowers, requested more funds go to the library system.
“This year we requested for an additional $153,000, what we would like to do is make our IT man full time, at this time he is only part time,” Ziady said.
Ziady added that they also need to give some raises, and a third of his staff could go to Walmart and make more. They would also like to pick up two part time positions, due to the fact they are now opened until 8 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday.
Kelly Bannister, with the Newberry County Health Department, made a request for funding for a generator, to run their two freezers and two refrigerators in the event of a power outage. Current, the Health Department has things like vaccines and other items that need to be in the freezers or refrigerators, and if power is lost, they’ll lose a lot.
“I spoke with Ervin West prior to this point, he told me to come up with a justification to get a back up generator. He told me the generator wasn’t the cost, mostly electrical work, putting in the switch and the power system, would be more of the cost,” Bannister said. “He worked it into he budget, then my understanding it was taken out of the budget because not enough funds, I’m requesting it please be put back in.”
The cost for the generator and work is roughly $50,000
Reach Andrew Wigger at 803-276-0625 ext. 1867 or on Twitter @ TheNBOnews.