There continues to be contention concerning the fiscal year 2015 budget for Greenwood County, as budget talks continued to produce varying opinions among council members concerning priorities for the budget.
Council will again took up budget discussions at both their administration and finance committee meeting and their regular meeting Tuesday evening. The vote on second reading of the budget passed 5-1, with councilman Steve Brown voting against the budget and councilwoman Edith Childs absent from the meeting.
Brown said he continued to oppose the budget because he had not received answers to his questions concerning line items in the budget. Specifically, Brown is opposed to hiring a new secretary/receptionist in the administration department and the fact that three mills formerly allocated for debt service were moved to operations (two mills) and capital fund (one mill). The county used some of the funds from the capital project sales tax, or penny tax, to retire about $5 million worth of debt earlier this year.
The budget for fire service continues to be a sticking point for council. Fire coordinator Steve Holmes and emergency services director Derek Kinney proposed a new fire fee structure that would have county residents pay a fee based on the square footage of their residence and likewise for businesses. Currently, every residence pays a $35 fee and businesses pay a set fee as well. Council will take that issue up again at a special called budget workshop next week. Brown said he did not feel comfortable taking any action of the fire fee until the totality of the new plan could be taken to residents and businesses and explained thoroughly.
The budget is scheduled for third and final reading at the next regular meeting of council on June 19.