Monday, May 26, 2014
Berkeley County’s projected 2015 budget has grown, but so has the county.
Supervisor Dan Davis unveiled a $61 million balanced budget to county council during a special meeting May 19. The proposed budget would add 23 new detention center officers, fund Trident Technical College and Cypress Gardens, and create a new magistrate judge. There is no cost-of-living increase for county employees in the new budget but benefit costs have increased.
Davis is framing the budget as no new taxes and growth paying for growth. The proposed budget would also return 20 percent of the local option sales tax to property owners in the form of a credit on their tax bill.
The current year will end in June, giving the council not much time to turn around the budget and pass it.
Last year, budget talks continued through September after the supervisor unveiled the budget in June. Council members added at least six amendments — including giving county employees a 3 percent raise. The majority on council, which does not favor Davis, also argued that his 2014 budget underestimated revenues and overestimated expenses.
A member of the majority that opposes Davis, Tim Callanan, said this year’s budget is “not as far off as we were last year.” But while Callanan was optimistic a budget will pass before June 30, he said there is still work to be done. He pointed to debt obligations and post-employment retirement funding.
The total revenue and expenditures are projected at $61 million — last year that number was $58.4 million. Of that budget, nearly $43 million is spent on personnel, $13.5 million is spent on operating costs, and there is no projected capital budget. The county expects to have nearly $1.5 million in extra taxes from residential and industrial growth, and nearly $1 million in extra licenses and permits over the next year.