UNION COUNTY — A new County budget totaling nearly $20 million; six fire department budgets totaling nearly $650,000; a one-year delay in property tax reassessment; and nearly $75,000 in funding requests for a medical facility at the County Detention Center/Jail, computers for the Assessors Office, Internet service at the Animal Shelter, and the replacement of a 20-ton air conditioning unit at the Courthouse were approved by Union County Council this past Tuesday.
At its June meeting Tuesday evening, Council voted unanimously to approve third and final reading of the ordinance adopting the county budget for fiscal 2020-2021.
The budget projects general fund revenues totaling $19,753,628 including property taxes ($10,350,000), sales and other miscellaneous taxes ($130,000), fees and fines ($649,500), licenses and permits ($50,000), intergovernmental ($1,519,963), charges for services ($2,959,400), investment earnings ($100,000), miscellaneous ($492,500), and reimbursements ($286,042).
Also included in the general fund revenue total are transfers-in from E-911 ($107,030), Victim’s Advocate ($71,836), Economic Development ($301,677 and $85,000), Title IV-D ($45,814), Poll Workers ($74,000), Hospitality/Accommodations ($275,000), Economic Development Infrastructure and Community Development ($175,000), UCCADA ($669,458), Solicitor ($185,000), Tourism ($111,517), Community Development ($65,716), Special Revenue ($22,000), Commitment from Committed General Fund Balance ($40,000), and Commitment from Uncommitted General Fund Balance ($777,175).
The budget projects $19,753,628 in expenditures including:
• $516,095 for Supervisor, Council, and HR
• $215,220 for IT
• $301,677 for Development Board
• $69,618 for Community Development
• $111,517 for Tourism
• $379,202 for Magistrate
• $165,810 for Probate Judge
• $125,266 for Circuit Court
• $128,504 for Public Defender
• $432,753 for Solicitor’s Office
• $481,044 for Clerk of Court
• $169,812 for Voter Registration/Election Commission
• $35,999 for County Attorney
• $114,847 for Building Inspector
• $224,939 for Tax Assessor
• $86,192 for Delinquent Tax Office
• $173,554 for Treasurer’s Office
• $134,382 for Auditor’s Office
• $185,854 for Building Superintendent
• $2,474,138 for Sheriff’s Office
• $184,738 for Code Enforcement
• $141,946 for Animal Control
• $124,008 for Coroner
• $2,536,229 for Detention Center
• $217,760 for E-911 & Communications
• $889,056 for Emergency Services
• $548,338 for County Maintenance
• $384,757 for Equipment Shop
• $28,600 for Health Department
• $42,000 for Department of Social Services
• $79,375 for Veteran’s Affairs
• $669,458 for Alcohol and Drug Abuse
• $73,836 for Victim’s Advocate
• $82,289 for Stadium
• $430,459 for Recycling
• $155,378 for Airport
• $706,876 for Parks and Recreation*
• $2,241,439 for Emergency Medical Services
• $3,690,663 for Non-Departmental
The current 2019-2020 budget totals $18,814,377 in revenues and expenditures.
By law, municipal, school district, and county budgets along with the state budget must be balanced with expenditures matching revenues.
*Includes the combined Timken Sports Complex ($431,781) and Recreation Department ($275,095) budgets.
In approving the County’s budget for fiscal 2020-2021, Council also approved the budgets for the following fire departments:
• Bonham Fire Department — $140,600
• Buffalo Fire Department — $301,600
• Carlisle Fire Department — $47,318
• Cross Keys Fire Department — $60,543.39
• Kelly-Kelton Fire Department — $53,425.81
• Philippi Fire Department — $44,432.15
These fire departments were created under the Home Rule Act which gave the powers regarding local government that had previously been wielded by the Union County Legislative Delegation to Union County Council. As these fire departments were created after Home Rule went into effect, it is the responsible of the County Council to approve their annual fiscal budgets.
In other business, Council voted unanimously to approve second reading of an ordinance “directing that the implementation of real property reassessment in Union County be delayed for one year.”
The ordinance points out that “once every fifth year, each county within the State of South Carolina shall appraise and equalize those properties under its jurisdiction, and that such property evaluation must be complete by the end of December of the fourth year and the county must notify every taxpayer of any change in classification if the change is one thousand dollars or more and requires that in the fifth year, the county shall implement the program and assess all property on the newly appraised value.”
While reassessment is required by law, the ordinance states that the law also permits a county to, by ordinance, postpone reassessment “for not more than one property tax year.” The ordinance states that County Council, in accordance with the law, directs that the reassessment be postponed for one year as permitted by law and that “such postponement shall apply to all revised values, including values for state appraised property.”
Supervisor Frank Hart said that Council decided to delay reassessment for one year because of the impact of the COVID-19 Virus on the local economy.
In other business, council also voted unanimously to approve the following requests from the following department for the following allocations from the Non-Departmental Capital Expenditures Account for the following projects:
• Union County Detention Center Director Neil McKeown’s request for $10,000 for the purpose of building the medical/education building at the Detention Center.
• Union County Tax Assessor Jake Black’s request for up to $2,500 for one desk top computer for his office.
• Building Superintendent Ken West’s request for up to $60,000 for the replacement of the HVAC Main Unit on the first floor of the Union County Courthouse.
West said that the 20-ton unit is operating at 50 percent capacity with one of its two compressors “gone” and the other “rattling” and unable to “keep up when it is really hot.” He said that the replacement of the unit would be handled by P&C Mechanical which had estimated that the replacement would cost up to $60,000.
In discussing West’s request, Hart pointed out that the installation of the new unit would eliminate “a couple of parking spaces” immediately behind the Courthouse.
Asked about the level of difficulty in replacing the unit, West said “it’s not just a simple installation, it is pretty complicated” but nevertheless had to be done.
• Union County Finance Director Ann Boggs’ request for up to $2,000 for Internet service at the Union County Animal Shelter.
Boggs told Council that a separate Internet connection was needed for the Shelter because the existing WiFi in the area was used by the Union County Detention Center and Jail for such things as video surveillance of the facilities. She said separate Internet service for the Shelter would avoid any possible problems that might arise were it to share WiFi with the Detention Center/Jail.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.