Charleston County moved closer to an austere budget Tuesday, as council members made adjustments to a plan that will limit some public services during the coming year and cost county employees more money for benefits.
The budget does not include a property tax increase.
By taking money from a number of fund balances, Council has reduced plans to borrow money this year by $10 million, and has found more money for purposes such as replacing worn-out Sheriff's Office vehicles.
The county's new $101 million prison is still unlikely to fully open on time in 2010 because the money's not available to hire the needed staff; but the prison could open by May of 2010 instead of in September, as was contemplated earlier.
County residents might see the impact of budget cuts on services such as road repairs, drainage ditch cleaning and mosquito control. There will be one fewer magistrate court, after the Edisto court is closed to save money, and ambulance fees will rise by $50.
Budget decisions also have sharply reduced accommodations tax funding to arts and cultural groups and to local governments.
The budget County Council is scheduled to vote upon for a final time June 2 would spend $163.4 million on general government expenses, down from $171 million in the budget year that's about to end.
Some council members had suggested the county should find roughly $10 million in additional budget cuts in order to reduce the county's property tax rate this year to compensate for a reduction in the sales-tax-funded property tax credit.
With layoffs and service cuts likely to result from such additional budget cutting, the majority of the council did not pursue that plan.