WINNSBORO — Fairfield County’s preliminary FY 2014-2015 general fund budget will not include a tax increase.
Interim County Administrator Milton Pope spoke about the budget prior to the public hearing on Monday’s (April 28) regular scheduled meeting.
According to this year’s census the maximum that Fairfield County could raise taxes is by 1.46 percent.
“This year’s budget recommendation reflects a transition in Fairfield County,” Pope began. “A transition that capitalizes on the strength of our past successes and an acknowledgement in areas of desired improvement that reflects positive changes for our entire county as well as establishing a sensitivity to the tax payers ability to fund and support the operations of our county.”
According to Pope, the foundation of the budget was crafted with a no-tax-increase philosophy and balanced with a clear vision of operational needs by enabling the elected officials and professional department directors to deliver services with an exceptional quality of service.
“As your staff, we believe that this transparency increases our fiscal accountability and reflects integrity in the budgeting process,” Pope noted.
Based on estimates, Pope advised council that there would not be a tax increase for the general fund.
There will be no new positions recommended in the budget either.
“This budget will assure that the service of the county will continue to be delivered and position the county for future operations while maintaining a strong fiscally responsible approach,” Pope endorsed. “It is this fiscally responsible approach that keeps our bond rating at an enviable A-plus rating.”
A preliminary version of the FY 2014-2015 Fairfield County budget is online, however some citizens felt the preliminary budget was still unsatisfactory.
District 2 resident Beth Jenkins was displeased with the county’s drafted budget.
“I would like to say thank you for putting online the preliminary budget, but I feel like it fell short as far as details for the public to look at,” she stated during the public comment portion of Monday’s meeting. “It was very vague and I urge everyone on council, before you vote, to give citizens a chance to look at the line items.”
District 7 resident Billy Smith commented during the public hearing prior to the second reading of the ordinance 629, which will establish operating and capital budgets for the operation of the county government for the fiscal year commencing on July 1.
Smith stated he attended the general fund budget work session on April 15. In that meeting, council reviewed a summary budget, but Smith said it was referenced that there was a detailed budget.
According to Smith, the budget posted online is the summary budget and not the detailed budget.
“I would just ask you not to vote no on the budget, because of course we have to have a budgeting process in place, but I would ask if we could possibly table the vote on the second reading of the budget until we can see the detailed budget report,” he requested. “Until we are made aware of the information we cannot give you input on it. And again without that report there is not much input we can give. Here we are having a public hearing when we haven’t even seen the budget.”
There will be a second budget work session on May 5 at 6 p.m. in county council chambers to discuss special revenue and other parts of the budget that were not covered in the general fund work session.