Council views 2015 – 2016 county budget
By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer, email@example.com
At their June 1 regular meeting, Darlington County Council got their first look at a proposed $33.2 million budget for fiscal year 2015/16, prepared by county administrator Terence Arrington and staff.
This first draft budget includes a general fund of $24,163,914, an Environmental Services fund of $2,716,965, a Fire District Fund of $1,963,370, a Road Maintenance fund of $1,675,000, a County Library fund of $1,352,598, an Emergency Telephone fund of $804,966, a Hartsville Fire Protection District fund of $475,000, and a State Accommodations Tax fund of $60,525.
Council passed first reading of Ordinance 15-21, which incorporates these budget figures as a starting point and allows the county to make appropriations and provide for expenditures and revenues for the coming budget year.
Arrington told council the budget he has prepared is “balanced on paper,” but is subject to input and changes during the forthcoming budget worksessions. Council will meet June 9 and 11 at 10 am in the Fifth Floor courtroom of the county courthouse for these working meetings, which Arrington estimated would last about four hours each. The budget worksessions are open to the public.
Council also approved final reading of Ordinance 15-12, containing several incentives for Sonoco Products Company, which plans to expand its Hartsville headquarters with a $12 million research and development facility. Council voted unanimously for a new Fee In Lieu of Tax (FILOT) agreement reducing the assessment ratio on Sonoco’s manufacturing facility from 10.5 percent to 6 percent and locking in millage for 30 years for each phase of investment, a 30-year extension of an existing 50-percent special source revenue credit from 2006, and a new 50-percent credit to reduce property taxes on the R&D expansion.
Other ordinances receiving third and final reading approval included:
No. 15-17, providing for the issuance and sale of a $2.1 million general obligation bond to purchase equipment for the Darlington County Fire Protection District, including safety gear (breathing apparatus, thermal imaging cameras), staff vehicles, a new dual-purpose tanker engine, and tanker upgrades.
No. 15-16, laying out guidelines for regulating renewable energy for residential, commercial, and other uses in the county.
Second reading approvals included No. 15-18, which would authorize Darlington County Board of Elections and Registration to conduct municipal elections for the Town of Lamar.
Council also approved contracts with two vendors: Intercontinental Commercial Services (ICS) will provide janitorial services for county facilities at an annual cost of $130,548; HMES will provide medical services for the Detention Center at an annual cost of $402,300.
Arrington noted that HMES cut their contract cost by $5,000, and the ICS contract includes a savings of $89,474.84 with the county providing supplies rather than purchasing them from the vendor.
Also at this meeting, Pee Dee Regional Transportation Authority director Chuck McNeil and regular bus rider James Stubbs appealed to council to include some funding for PDRTA in the upcoming budget.