Taylor Griffith

tgriffith@journalscene.com

In the face of exponential growth and decreased funding from the state, the Dorchester County Council held millage rates for four dependent organizations at last fiscal year's levels.

On Monday, representatives from Dorchester School District Two, Dorchester Seniors, Inc., Trident Technical College and Children in Crisis presented their respective budgets for Fiscal Year 2014-2015 to the Dorchester County Budget and Finance Committee.

The budget revenues are provided by the county via a set millage, or tax rate. The Council has the ability to adjust the rates, but no changes were requested this year.

Dorchester District Two, 168.6 mills: The proposed budget is $165,737,514, an increase from last fiscal year by $3.2 million. According to Allyson Duke, director of business services, the increase is due to state mandated increases in teachers' salaries, health benefits and retirement.

She said the district is anticipating to grow by 600 students and is using a base student cost of $2,120.

Duke said the increases are necessary for keeping up with the growth in Dorchester County, although they're nowhere near what the county is realistically experiences.

"That is really the rate from a year ago," she said of the base student cost.

The district presented a long list of funding needs and is hopes to hire security officers, additional teachers and fund a 1 percent for non-teachers.

The millage rate for the school district has not increased since fiscal year 2011, according to Duke.

"We're only doing what we're doing because it's mandated," said district Superintendent Joe Pye. "[Raises for the teachers] is the right thing to do, but we wanted to bring that to your attention. We're in a hole, and we want to climb out."

Dorchester Seniors, 1.9 mills: Executive Director Jean Ott presented a $2,124,484 balanced budget. She said the payroll line item increased to keep up with growth so the organization does not get behind.

A bulk of capital expenses are budgeted for building repairs, "that's what we've talked about before," she said.

The organization has been saving money - now a total of $900,000 in the reserve fund - specifically for building a new facility for the past several years as the current two facilities get older. Increasing enrollment numbers and waiting lists are also reasons for the expansion, Ott said.

Trident Technical College, 3.5 mills: Representatives from Trident Tech estimated $14,103,691 in expenditures. The organization also cited increased state and federal mandates and new building construction as the main reasons for the $1.4 million budgeted increase.

Children in Crisis, 1 mill: Executive Director Kay Phillips said the center did not request any millage increases this year because of outside funding support through donations, grants and the center's two fundraising events.

All of the presentations were approved by the Budget and Finance Committee, and later by the full Council. No members of the public spoke during the public hearing.

Additional groups funded by Dorchester County will make their presentations in St. George later this month.