Darlington County Council considers $35.6M budget

DARLINGTON, SC (WBTW) – Darlington County Council is moving forward with a $35.6 million dollar budget for 2017-2018.

Monday night council approved the second reading of the upcoming budget, about $1.1 million dollars more than the previous budget, at $34.4 million dollars.

County Administrator Charles Stewart says county leaders have worked hard to create a balanced budget.

“We did put a lot of hard work into because there are increases. We want to keep those increases the bare minimum,” Charles Stewart, Darlington County Administrator.

Stewart explains the proposed budget will increase the property tax by a 1.1 millage.

“This will equate to about four dollars on a hundred thousand dollar home,” explained Stewart. “So, the millage rate is relatively low.”

Another big change, the airport and emergency services are no longer included in the general fund.

With the change, there are two additional fees. Stewart says there is already a $30 vehicle fee which funds roads and bridges.

The new emergency services fees will include: an additional $15 for each vehicle in the county and $20 per property.

“That will go to supplement the emergency management services fund. A new fund that will include our 911 center, Emergency Medical Services, and Emergency Management,” said Stewart.

Stewart said the new fees will help free up money in the general fund to offset the new cost of state retirement and cut the counties need to use reserve funds each year.

“Just as you at home can use your savings account to a point where there is nothing left. Or you keep a minimum balance. That is where we are with the counties reserves,” he explained.

Stewart says council is proud of adding a 2.5 percent cost- of- living increase for County employees and two correctional officer position at the detention center.

“This past fall two positions were added but they were not funded in this current year’s budget. That is a part of, as well, next year’s money. This will help meet out prison rape elimination art (PREA) requirements,” said Stewart. “We certainly hope to keep moving forward.”

Council will review the third and final reading of this budget at next month’s council meeting in June.