• Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Georgetown County’s proposed $62.52 million budget for 2013 has no tax increases or cuts to services and includes a 3 percent bonus for county employees.
County Council gave second reading approval to the budget at its meeting on Tuesday night.
The budget includes: $22.79 million for general operations; $3.16 million for Midway Fire; $2.4 million for county fire; $11.47 million for the sheriff’s office and detention center; $1.69 million for road improvements; $5.4 million for debt service; $3.28 million for capital equipment replacement; $5.96 million for environmental services; and $2.3 million for stormwater management.
However, the 2013 budget figure could change. For 2012, the original adopted budget was $62.60 million. The amended budget was $68.34 million.
The county is counting on the Senate to increase state contributions to the Local Government Fund. If that doesn’t happen, Georgetown would get about $400,000 less than what has been budgeted.
Final budget approval will be given at Council’s next meeting on June 12, which is Election Day.

In other business

• Georgetown County will help pay for repairs to Osprey Lake in Litchfield By The Sea (LBTS) under an agreement approved by County Council.
The lake, which was created by the developer of LBTS, is a retention pond for the development and the public areas of North Litchfield.
Ray Funnye, the county’s public services director, said the lake is leaking and causing a public safety issue on the nearby access road.
The cost to the county for the repairs is $89,982, which is half of the project’s total cost.
Several council members questioned why the county would be paying for repairs for a lake on private property.
“A lot of the water that flows into that lake comes off public lands,” Councilman Jerry Oakley said. “It’s been an ongoing problem in North Litchfield that’s been around as long as I can remember. It’s as much our problem as it is theirs.”
County Administrator Sel Hemingway said in 2006, LBTS agreed to let the county access the property in an emergency to lower the level of the lake to improve drainage.
Once these repairs are complete, LBTS and the county will look into more long-term solutions.
• An amendment to allow more uses in the Litchfield Village Planned Development was given second reading by Council.
When the development was approved in 1982 off Highway 17 and Willbrook Boulevard, the list of uses was very limited. A representative recently went through the county’s list of approved commercial uses and picked a bunch to add.
The ordinance stipulates that no business with a drive-through will be allowed.
The Georgetown County Planning Commission held a public hearing and unanimously recommended the changes.
Before County Council gives third reading to the changes the developer will have to submit a new parking plan.
• Council approved a new contract with Aaramark Correctional Services to provide meals at the Georgetown County Detention Center.
The contract is for $1.36 million over five years and has to be renewed ever year.
The county and Aaramark were in the fourth year of the previous five-year deal, but the county decided to solicit new bids after Sheriff Lane Cribb received information that another company could offer a better deal.
Five companies submitted bids and Aaramark was the lowest, and was nearly $15,000 less over the five years than what the county had budgeted.
Under the new contract, the cost of inmate’s meals went down slightly and the cost of staff and visitor’s meals went up slightly.
The cost of meals is flexible and will increase and decrease with the inmate population.

By Chris Sokoloski

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