Some Charleston County employees could get one-time, $1,000 salary supplements under proposed budget

Some Charleston County employees could get another one-time, $1,000 salary supplement next year, but not a permanent raise, under a budget plan proposed by Administrator Kurt Taylor.

Taylor and other county staffers launched the annual budget process with a presentation to County Council’s Finance Committee on their proposed plan for the 2014 fiscal year, which begins July 1. Council will continue to discuss the budget Thursday and on June 4. And there will be a public hearing on June 11.

Taylor said the government needs more money to run next year, mostly due to the cost of adding employees in the Consolidated 911 Dispatch Center and Public Works Mosquito Control Division.

His budget for county operations is $194 million, up 3.7 percent from this year’s budget.

But the county also expects to bring in more from the local-option sales tax, which would more than offset that increase, Taylor said. So homeowners would see a net decrease in their property taxes if County Council passes the proposed budget.

If that happens, taxes for owner-occupied homes would drop 6 percent, which represents a reduction of $4.80 on a $100,000 home.

County budget director Mack Gile said sales tax revenue is expected to be $51 million in 2014, up 5 percent from 2013.

The budget includes $2.2 million for the proposed salary supplements, Gile said. If the budget is approved, checks would be dispersed in December.

County finance director Keith Bustraan said the supplements likely would again be about $1,000.

Some county employees received a one-time, $1,000 salary supplement for the 2013 fiscal year in March.

Taylor said this marks the second consecutive year the county has had a tax decrease.

But County Councilman Dickie Schweers said, “It’s hard for me to define this as a tax decrease budget.” The county should be returning all of the local-option sales tax money to the taxpayers, he said. It shouldn’t be using that money to offset increases in the county’s operating budget.

“I would like to see all the money go back to the taxpayers,” said Councilman Joe Qualey.

The proposed budget also would:

Maintain the county’s AAA bond rating.

Complete the transition to 911 Consolidated Dispatch.

Increase services to veterans.

Strengthen mosquito control.

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