Palmetto Sunrise: Add local government fund to list of Legislature debates

Elected officials often like to pass the buck when it comes to all sorts of problems: local governments blame the state and state officials blame the feds. Congress blames each other — or the president.

But for many people, the buck stops with their local officials when it comes to good schools or safe roads.

Enter the local government fund, a key source of revenue for governments around the state. Competing proposals from Rep. Jim Merrill and Eddie Southard, S.C. House Republicans, are moving through the House and there are likely to be more. Local governments are supposed to receive 4.5 percent of the state’s general fund — but state officials usually short it. Merrill wants to pay local governments a less but more consistent amount and Southard is pushing to give them more.

As the Post and Courier’s Robert Behre reported: In the town of Mount Pleasant, council members voted last year to raise property taxes to pay for deferred maintenance on roads and drainage lines.

In Berkeley County, where lawmakers see the fund’s future in different ways, the outcome will decide how much county taxpayers are burdened with funding state-mandated services, Supervisor Bill Peagler said. He added that Berkeley has lost $10 million since fiscal year 2009.

“It is truly unfortunate that the taxpayers of Berkeley County have been forced to cover $10 million for the unfunded mandates of state government,” he said, adding he hopes Southard’s bill prevails. “Inflation is real. The costs of providing the mandated services on behalf of the state have increased and will continue to increase.”

Palmetto Politics and other news...

House takes different path from governor on roads

Grooms dismisses attempt to rename bridge

20-week abortion ban moves forward

Kitzman awaits confirmation at DHEC