Council County ready to tackle budget for FY15

  • Thursday, March 20, 2014

Heading into the Fiscal Year 2015 budget season, Georgetown County leaders are taking into account several factors including changes in employee health care, retirement and workers compensation insurance premiums.

County Administrator Sel Hemingway briefed County Council members about these considerations for the budget at their meeting last meeting.

“As we prepare the FY15 budget, revenues and expenditures will be appropriated to reflect the financial impact for the coming year,” Hemingway said.

“Tourism indicators like hospitality taxes and accommodations taxes are on an upslope. We had record levels last year, and we continue to grow and set new thresholds in 2014 to date.”

He said all indications point to the Local Government Fund (LGF) being funded at a minimum of FY14’s level. That fund is for state unfunded mandates.

“This is the amount that will be included in the FY15 budget forecast,” Hemingway said.

He said increases for state retirement plans will cause the employer contribution rate to the South Carolina Retirement System will increase from 10.6 percent to 10.9 percent, an impact of approximately $60,000.

The employer contributions rate to the Police Officer’s Retirement System will increase from 12.84 percent to 13.41 percent, an impact of approximately $80,000.

Hemingway also spoke about Workers’ Compensation Insurance.

“While we anticipate retaining our excellent Experience Modifier, we still expect increased costs as a result of the compensation increases approved by Council,” he said.

Workers Compensation rates are applied to the actual compensation paid.

Hemingway said the State Health Plan has been “grandfathered” and protected from implementing the most expensive provisions of the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act.

Delays in federal implementation of the Act have extended the date when the State Health Plan will lose its grandfathered status until January, at which time all plans must implement the provisions of the law.

“The Budget & Control Board has forewarned participating entities that the cost to the plan will be enormous,” Hemingway said.

“The increased cost will be paid with increased premiums paid by employees, increase employer contributions or, most likely, a combination of the two. We will not know the amount by which employer premiums will be increased until the Legislature makes that decision in conjunction with the budget process.”

He said the Legislature is already examining options to hold down premium increases such as reducing and/or eliminating benefits not mandated by the

PPAFA and increasing deductibles and copayments.

Hemingway discussed positive signs for the upcoming budget, including revenue growth, accommodations and hospitality taxes, building permits, documentary fees, landfill fees, vehicle taxes, and franchise fees from utilities.

Budget schedule

April 22 — first reading of budget ordinance

April 24 — budget draft to County Council

April 29 — budget work session

May 27 — public hearing and second reading of budget ordinance

June 10 — third reading and final adoption of budget ordinance.

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