County general funds balanced at 1st budget workshop

BY ADRIENNE SARVIS adrienne@theitem.com
Posted 5/3/18

During its budget workshop on Tuesday, Sumter County Council reviewed a proposed balanced budget with expenditures and revenues totaling $52.7 million.

According to a master budget worksheet provided during the meeting, the county's general fund …

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County general funds balanced at 1st budget workshop

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During its budget workshop on Tuesday, Sumter County Council reviewed a proposed balanced budget with expenditures and revenues totaling $52.7 million.

According to a master budget worksheet provided during the meeting, the county's general fund expenditures were $52.57 million and general fund revenues were $52.43 million, leaving a deficit of about $140,000, as of April 24.

Sumter County Council Chairman Jim McCain said this is the first time council has been presented with a balanced budget at its first budget workshop since he has been on council, for about four years.

The worksheet also states that the county anticipates it will collect a little more than $32 million in taxes during the next fiscal year, about $149,400 more than the county is anticipated to collect this year.

Though the county is starting off its 2019 fiscal year budget process in the fast lane, the budget still requires more work before it is fully balanced - capital requests from county departments and other agencies still have a deficit.

Capital requests are usually funded by a $2.5 million bond that is issued annually. The county uses the bond to cover the purchase of 15 new vehicles for Sumter County Sheriff's Office and other requested department expenses.

Also related to the sheriff's office, the proposed 2019 budget shows a $180,000 reduction for Sumter-Lee Regional Detention Center compared to this year's budget, which was passed before Sheriff Anthony Dennis was granted the authority to manage the jail in September.

The detention center's budget for this current fiscal year is $6.83 million while the proposed budget for 2019 is $6.65 million.

Sumter County Finance Director Jamie Michaelson said part of the reduction in the detention center's budget request is that previously costs for resources such as food were too high compared to the jail's population. Now the requests are at the same level as the population, he said.

Sumter County Administrator Gary Mixon said council will also have to discuss how the county will pay for renovations to Sumter Fire Department headquarters building - which will serve as the new headquarters for Sumter County EMS - after the agency moves to the Public Safety Complex on Lafayette Drive.

While discussing other first responder expenses, Councilwoman Vivian Fleming-McGhaney asked about the possibility of raising wages for volunteer firefighters.

Councilman Gene Baten added that the increase would show the volunteer firefighters that they are appreciated for their service to the community.

Mixon said council will continue its discussion of capital requests - $6.1 million - during its next budget workshop on Tuesday.