Berkeley County still working on 2013-14 budget

— Berkeley County Council still has not agreed on a budget a month into the new fiscal year.

“The implication that council is somehow dragging their feet on this is simply not accurate,” said Finance Committee Chairman Tim Callanan. He said he did not receive the budget until June, and that was not enough time to look at it closely, so council instead passed a resolution on June 24 to keep spending at last year’s levels through July.

Last week, council was still unable to agree on a budget and extended the resolution through August, a move they have done at times in the past, County Attorney Nicole Scott Ewing said.

“We have presented the budget at the same time every year,” said Supervisor Dan Davis. “It’s presented when it is ready and there has been adequate time.”

Davis and Callanan both came up with budgets that do not include a tax increase, but Callanan also hoped to lower tax bills by refunding a portion of the local option sales tax, which was originally intended to reduce property taxes but since 2008 has been used for county projects.

After Thursday’s meeting at times became heated and included accusations of an audience member making obscene gestures, Councilman Caldwell Pinckney suggested taking more time to work on the budget.

“I would apologize to the public,” he said. “It appears we are having problems staying fiscally responsible to the taxpayers of Berkeley County, but that’s not the case.”

Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or facebook.com/brindge.

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