If you go
What: Berkeley County Council meeting
When: Starts immediately after committee meetings and public hearings, which start at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Berkeley County Administration Building assembly room, 1003 Highway 52, Moncks Corner
Contact: (843) 719-4234
Berkeley County residents could see a credit on their tax bills if the proposed budget gains enough support from council members.
“My goal is to have your tax bill actually lower this year coming up than it was last year,” said Councilman Tim Callanan, chairman of the Finance Committee. “My view is that we can take care of our responsibilities by controlling spending and give the taxpayers back their tax credit.”
Callanan plans to present the county’s $56.4 million budget at today’s council meeting. He anticipates a special meeting on Thursday to discuss it and hopes it will be passed on July 29, he said.
The budget was to go into effect on July 1, but instead on June 24 council passed a “continuing appropriations” resolution temporarily keeping funding at last year’s levels.
In May, Supervisor Dan Davis presented a balanced budget that included a 3 percent pay raise for employees.
Callanan, who was out of town during the June 24 meeting, said council passed the temporary budget because the Finance Committee was still examining the budget proposed by the county’s finance department.
“We have ripped this budget apart,” he said.
The budget Callanan will present today includes:
Raises for employees that will be “nearly identical” to those in Davis’ May budget proposal, but will likely be a combination of a salary adjustment and the implementation of a compensation plan instead of 3 percent across the board raises.
Additional employees for the Hill-Finklea Detention Center, requested by Sheriff Wayne DeWitt, who said the center is overcrowded because he lacks the staff to open the third floor.
A payment toward the county’s $7.5 million commitment to Trident Technical College’s Nursing and Science Building, which council has been arguing over for two years. Callanan maintains that council committed to the project, but Davis disagrees.
In addition, Callanan said he still hopes to reopen the county services satellite center in Goose Creek, which is estimated to cost $160,000.
“I understand the answer is not simply us dictating that it be reopened,” he said. “The satellite office was a good service, but it was flawed (because services offered were limited), so I want to give them time to come up with a solution that would benefit the residents of Berkeley County.”
The proposed budget also returns the local option sales tax money that has been reappropriated in the last couple years.
Since May 1997, the county has collected the 1 percent sales tax with plans to reduce property tax bills. But in 2008, council voted to spend 29 percent of that money on projects like the detention center expansion, road improvements and other capital improvement projects. Since 2010 it has been spent on equipment, and is now treated as a regular part of the budget, Callanan said.
“We may not be able to afford to give the entire 29 percent back, but it begins the process of correcting what was done over the last two years of essentially taking that money from residents,” Callanan said.