KINGSTREE, S.C. – The Williamsburg County Council passed the same budget on July 2 as it did for fiscal year 2018-19. But County Supervisor Tiffany Wright said that budget was unbalanced last year, and it is not possible for the county to use it this year because it does not have enough revenue.
The majority of the council voted last month against a balanced proposed budget presented by the supervisor for fiscal year 2019-20 because it included a $40 first responder vehicle fee. The fee would have had to be paid by residents and be applicable on all vehicles in the county. The fee would have yielded the county about $880,000 and would have funded emergency medical services, rescue squad service, fire protection services and other departments or services relating to protection of lives and property.
At the legal deadline of June 30, Williamsburg County still did not have an approved balanced budget for this fiscal year.
Williamsburg County Councilman Torrance Wilson made a motion at the special council meeting on July 2 to remove a section of the proposed budget ordinance that would eliminate the proposed $40 first responder vehicle fee.
Councilman Samuel L. Floyd said that, basically, the motion was to pass “a copy of the same budget we passed last year.”
Wilson said at a community meeting last week that he did not vote for the $40 fee because he felt the county could have done some other innovative things to help its situation. But he definitely wants employees to make as much money as possible, he said.
“We’re going to be able to sit down and we’re going to be able to get some things worked out,” Wilson said. “And we’re going to make it happen. It didn’t come to this point all at once.”
Wilson said he asks for the residents’ patience.
Wright said the county is not going to be able to make the approved budget work because of a lot of the unfunded mandates for this year.
“For one, it’s the increase in health insurance, it’s the increase in workers’ (compensation) the increase in state retirement and PORS (Police Officers Retirement System) retirement,” Wright said. “That alone, if you give us what we had last year, it’s not going to be enough.”
Every five years, the county has to do an assessment and reassessment of all properties and it does not have the money to do that. The county is also having to replace its computers, Wright said.
“What’s going to happen, I don’t know, she said.