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County has $627,000 budget deficit Print E-mail

Bamberg County Council members will hold a half day “financial retreat” to discuss ways to deal with a current $627,000 budget shortfall. County Finance Director Thomas M. Thomas reported at council’s February 6, meeting, the county had collected 47 percent of its estimated revenue for the fiscal year 2011-12. He noted that for the month of December collections were $757,165 with total revenues of $3,514,680. On the expense side, Thomas reported that 55 percent of the county’s budget has been spent with expenditures for the month of January totaling $262,707. Year-to-date total expenditures were $4,141,714 leaving a current deficit of $627,034. The finance director noted the county’s finance committee is looking at several line items in the budget that have been targeted for reduction.

Bamberg County Council Chairman Chris Wilson noted the county’s financial committee has been looking at the budget since December and the full council also met in December to study the matter of the budget, but he said it was time for the council “as a whole” to meet on the budget in proposing the half day financial retreat.

“I recommend this week or next week that full council come together and make some changes and alternatives going forth through the rest of this budget year,” Wilson said. When asked by Councilman Isaiah Odom about the status of the county’s reserve fund, Wilson noted: “The County doesn’t carry a large reserve fund” and he added that the hospital transaction needed to go through as the county could not afford to make another cash infusion at this time. It was also noted that council was still waiting for the results its 2010-11 audit report that is now three months past due.

Also during the meeting, Bamberg County Hospital Administrator John Hales reported the hospital was able to extend its positive cash flow three or four more weeks through debt set offs that were first projected to be $50,000 and ended up being $111,000.

“That’s the good thing, right now as it stands we’re good to go until that date (April 20),” Hales said, adding “we’re not asking for any money.” Also by extending the positive cash flow for several weeks it brings the hospital’s finances up to the time it receives its disproportionate share payment ( money paid on a quarterly basis to offset Medicaid and Medicare losses) of $218,759 that after taxes of $151, 678 should amount to $70,000 .” The longer we can go, the better it is for all of us, providing medical care and no more cost to the county,” Hales said.

County Council Chairman Wilson noted the transaction on the hospital was supposed to have closed by December 31. “You made it well past that,” Wilson said to Hales.

In other business:

• Council members after a public hearing was held referred to the planning committee a proposed ordinance for the creation of a Storm Water and Sediment Control Plan for Bamberg County. County Administrator Rose Dobson-Elliott noted in the public hearing that the County adopted an ordinance in 2009 but this plan was “more detailed” and fit in with the federal plan that is tied to the Clean Water Act and allowed citizens to purchase flood insurance.

• Council members approved the appointment of Rev. Ted Robertson as Liaison to the Bamberg County Litter Control Board as recommended by Councilman Isaiah Odom of District five.

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