Bright spots in next county budget
Georgetown County is looking at revenues of $22.825 million in Fiscal Year 2014, County Administrator Sel Hemingway told County Council members at a budget workshop last week.
Hemingway said expenditures are expected to $23.103 million, a shortfall of $278,636.
The county is projecting the following revenue:
• $12,857,300 from property taxes, a 1 percent increase over Fiscal Year 2013;
• $745,500 from vehicle taxes, a 5 percent increase;
• $805,000 from building permit fees, a 15 percent increase;
• $575,000 from documentary stamp fees, a 15 percent increase;
• $230,000 from recording fees, a 15 percent increase;
• $1,900,908 from ambulance fees, a 3 percent increase;
• $2,209,380 from the Local Government Fund.
Hemingway said the rise in building permits, documentary stamp fees and recording fees is a good economic indicator for the county.
Building permits rose 58.2 percent from February 2012 to January 2013. About 38 percent of that was for the Georgetown Hospital System.
Documentary stamp fees, which had been in decline since 2010, increased 18.9 percent from February 2012 to January 2013. Recording fees increased 15.4 percent in the same time period.
Another good sign is the increase in construction debris being dropped off at the county landfill. The tonnage started rising in late 2010, and has increased 18 percent from February 2012 to January 2013.
“These are welcome signs,” Hemingway said. “We’re trending in an upward direction in those areas.”
Another bit of good news for the county is that its Workers’ Compensation Insurance premiums are expected to decrease.
One area of concern for county officials when working on the FY14 budget is fuel costs since no one can predict how high gas prices will go.
Hemingway said there was a 0.17 percent difference in what was budgeted for fuel in FY12 and what was actually spent.
There are several factors that could adversely affect the FY14 budget:
• The Local Government Fund is expected to be funded at least at last year’s minimum level, but will need to be voted on by the state Legislature.
• The county’s contributions to the Police Officers’ Retirement System will increase from 12.30 to 12.84 percent.
• The State Health Plan has been “grandfathered,” therefore protecting it from some of the most expensive provisions of the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act. The protection will end in 2014 and the state could take a $70 million hit. The state Legislature is looking at ways at dealing with it.
The Fiscal Year 2014 budget will go to County Council for first reading by title only on April 23. There will a public hearing and second reading on May 28 and third reading on June 11.
By Chris Sokoloski
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