Second reading to amend Williamsburg County’s budget 2019-2020 ordinance was approved during an October 7, meeting of Williamsburg County Council. Four attending councilmembers, Joe Lee, Eddie Woods, Torrance Wilson, and Jonathan Miller, voted in favor of the ordinance, which will authorize council to assess an one-time temporary fee in an amount to be determined at third and final reading. Councilmen Andy McKnight and Sam Floyd and Councilwoman Carolyn Lemmon were not present.

Since then, the language has changed to describe the fee as an Emergency Fee of $42 per vehicle. In addition, many options will be up for discussion which include but are not limited to, a reduction in recycling hours that will save $106,093, mandatory furloughs ranging from five to 10 days at a cost savings between $148,249 and $74,124. A public hearing is scheduled for Thursday, October 17, at 6 p.m. County council meetings are held at the PSA building at 201 West Main Street, Kingstree.

In July, council voted to operate on the 2018-2019 budget at approximately $21 million. The proposed budget was approximately $22 million and struck down the fee, which was first introduced as a First Responder fee in a 4-3 vote. The language was changed in response to a deficient of approximately $600,000 that Williamsburg County Supervisor Dr. Tiffany Wright said in March was contributed to overestimated revenues from the prior FY 2018-19 budget.

In an October 14, telephone interview, Wright said they now have taken funding for fire department and salaries for the Sheriff’s Office off the table. She provided The News with documents that include an estimated 2019-2020 budget deficit of $970,146.87. The expenses include $594,163 in EMS fulltime salaries, FICA and retirement.

In April, Interim Budget Director Liz Nelson said a heavy equipment lease had a balloon payment of approximately $1 million coming up but was not included in the approved debt service budget (funds required to cover the repayment of interest and principal on a debt). Since then a resolution was approved by council for a new lease agreement between the county and Caterpillar/Blanchard Machinery.

Council passed the 2018-19 budget with no tax increase and a two percent of living increase for county employees. In addition, full-time salaries in three E-911 departments saw an 8.2 percent increase. At that time, former Finance Director Stephen Edwards said $19,002,983.07 revenue reflected the expected balance carryover from the fiscal year leaving a fund balance of $3,680,628.07 to complete projects in the following fiscal year. However, according to Nelson, key issues in the budget included six of 13 funds that were not balanced and budget transfers to the General Fund had appeared not to be reasonable.