County approves budgets, opts out of opioid lawsuit

By Samantha Lyles
Staff Writer
slyles@newsandpress.net

Darlington County Council met on June 29 and passed final reading for new annual budgets totaling nearly $40 million.
The budgets for fiscal year 2020-21 total $39,940,496, with individual fund appropriations as follows:
Accommodations Tax Fund, $70,000; Airport Fund, $1,264,453; Emergency Services Fund, $4,890,730; Emergency Telephone Fund, $626,254; Environmental Services Fund, $2,833,500; Fire District Fund, $2,492,072; General Fund, $23,923,718; Hartsville Fire Protection District, $491,958; Hospitality Tax Fund, $35,000; Library Fund, $1,531,611; Road Maintenance Fund, $1,781,200.
These figures include a 1 percent raise for all county employees.
The final reading for the new budgets passed 6-2, with objections from council members Joyce Wingate Thomas and Albert Davis III, and they go into effect on July 1.
Council also passed final reading of the annual agreement to use Rubicon as the county’s provider for alcohol and drug abuse programs.
Following an executive session, council voted 6-2 for Darlington County to opt out of the class action lawsuit against pharmaceutical giant – and manufacturer of oxycontin – Perdue Pharma.
Thomas and Davis voted to join the lawsuit, with Thomas saying she wanted persons in the county harmed by the opioid epidemic to receive some benefit.
Ordinance 20-01, the Updated Comprehensive Plan for Darlington County, was carried over. Council member Bobby Kilgo explained that the pandemic has indefinitely delayed a council work session dedicated to reviewing the plan, so the body will not vote on the updated plan until that review is complete.
Second reading was carried over for Ordinance No. 20-04, authorizing a special source revenue credit agreement between the county and Sonoco Products Company. The ten-year agreement would defray Sonoco’s county tax burden for non-specified site improvements by instead collecting payments calculated at a 6 percent assessment and a fixed millage rate equal to 302.3 mills. Council vice chair Lewis Brown abstained from voting on this measure.
Council also renewed the county’s emergency ordinance allowing government meetings to take place remotely and be made available to the public via electronic means.
Darlington County Council’s next meeting is scheduled for July 16 at 6 p.m. at the Courthouse Annex / EMS Building, 1625 Harry Byrd Hwy in Darlington. This meeting will be live streamed to the public via Facebook @DarlingtonCountyCouncilLive.

Author: Rachel Howell

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