County officials face budget challenges for FY2015

  • Friday, May 16, 2014

Challenges for the Georgetown County budget for Fiscal Year 2015 include uncertainty of state funding for mandates, increased costs for retirement, health insurance, workers compensation, and fuel.

County administrator Sel Hemingway reported to County Council Tuesday that these issues are being taken into account during the budget process.

State funding for mandates, called the Local Government Fund (LGF), is being decided in a State Senate committee and will be finalized by the full House and Senate in the coming weeks, Hemingway said.

He said the County was hoping the LGF would be at least at 2014 levels, but it is currently $15.8 million less than last year’s amount.

“We are being optimistic that it will return to the 2014 level,” Hemingway said.

“We have not deducted that number (from the budget) to date.”

In addition to those challenges, Hemingway stated that SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) has decided not to continue returning fees collected from the local health department as they had in years past.

“They notified they will not be doing that this year,” Hemingway said.

“That amount is about $25,000.”

And the final cost of Ice Storm Pax, which caused a lot of damage to trees in the area this winter, is still undetermined, he said.

“That depends on what our costs are when we are finished the reporting process,” Hemingway said.

That should include reimbursements from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the City of Georgetown, he said.

Hemingway added that the County will try to keep its reserve balance at $8 million, but some of it might have to be used to help balance the budget.

“(The ice storm) was a good demonstration of why we should maintain a reserve fund balance,” Hemingway said.

“That is exactly the purpose for maintaining those reserve funds, to ‘weather the storm.’”

The FY2015 annual operating budget will be introduced during the May 13 Council meeting, and will be presented for adoption following the proposed schedule below:

June 10 – public hearing and second reading.

June 24 – third reading and final adoption.

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