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County expresses concern regarding finances Print E-mail

Even with month-to-month and even week-to-week budgeting adjustments, Bamberg County expressed concerns about the finances at the March 5th meeting. Council has frozen spending and even gone back again and again to ask department heads to review their budgets for possible voluntary cuts. Finance Director Thomas M. Thomas presented the January financial report and said the county had year-to-date revenues of $5,192,958 and year-to-date expenditures of $4,683,282.

“We have collected YTD 69% of our estimated annual revenue amount for the fiscal yr 2011-2012. Our total collected revenue for the month of January 2012 was at $1,220,278 making it our largest monthly collection this fiscal year with collected YTD revenue now at $5,192,958.1,” noted Thomas.

Thomas also explained that the county had expensed YTD up to 62% of our total budget ($7,552,861) on the expenditure sides as well. He added, monthly expenditures came in at $541,568 for the month of February 2012 which is down by 29% compared to last month’s expenditures.

County Council chairman Chris Wilson said the report revealed a lot more. “The reality of it is we just went through December and January collections for the fiscal year, which is the best time for tax collections, at least for the county. Those revenues are going to start to decline throughout the remaining part of the fiscal year through June 30, 2012. Wilson said the county cannot wait to make adjustments. “We have got to do something before June.”

Robert Milhous of Columbia-based Robert E. Milhous CPA, PA & Associates did not arrive in time to present the audit report the 2010-2011 fiscal year and was rescheduled for a March 8 special meeting.

Milhous was scheduled to appear at a special meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 8, when the council is set to consider the third and final reading of an ordinance to issue a general obligation bond for up to $1.1 million. The funds will be used to cover two existing Tax Anticipation Notes of $500,000 each that are due April 15.

Denmark resident Sara Noel wanted to know how the TAN funds were being used. Wilson said the funds were a financial resource for a variety of capital projects in addition to the needs of the hospital.

Also during the meeting, Hospital Administrator John Hales reported the hospital would be able to maintain a positive cash flow at least until the “first week in May” and possibly longer because the facility is expecting a reimbursement through its debt set-off program.

Hales said the hospital’s monthly net revenue for January came in at $446,000. He said this was $43,000 higher than in December. Monthly expenses, however, came in at $568,000, resulting in a net operating income loss of $121,397. Total cash collections for the month were $503,000, $87,000 more than what was collected the prior month.

In other business:

Denmark residents Donald Parlor and Lee Davis, Jr. expressed concern about the poor condition of Dally Road in Denmark after a bad rain. The men said residents have been requesting that the county paves the road. Wilson told the men that the county was not responsible for paving roads. After realizing that Parlor had followed instructions for some time ago from the county concerning the road, he asked County Administrator Rose Dobson-Elliott to write a letter to the county’s C-Fund Committee to ask it to investigate the matter. Until a solution is reached, the county agreed to provide rock and “crush-and-run” for the road.

The Reverend Rufus Jamison Jr. asked about the possibility of sidewalks being installed on Church Street in Denmark. Wilson said he remembered council moving forward with that request previously, but residents were not willing to provide property for a DOT right-of-way. He also advised Jamison to take up the issue with DOT and the transportation advisory committee.

Denmark resident and businessman Charles Stewart expressed concern about a street that others and he have been having problems with, Rosebud Lane. Stewart said Rosebud West is usable, but not Rosebud East. He said the street was maintained until 2004. Wilson said he believed that was one of the streets that the county quit maintaining because it was identified as a private road. However, Wilson agreed to have the county reevaluate the circumstances.

Wilson reported that a six-member committee has been established to explore a one cent tax project to be used for capital projects. The penny tax project is expected to be placed on the ballot in November. Dobson-Elliott said the information must be turned in to the county’s election commission by the council’s June meeting.

Wilson and Council members Clint Carter and Evert Comer Jr. were appointed to serve on a fee-in-lieu Committee. The purpose of that committee is to address how funds from fee-in-lieu of taxes will be spent.

County attorney Richard Ness reported the U.S. Justice Department had approved the county’s redistricting plan. Under the plan, the county has a total population deviation of 5.16 percent, well below the state law requirement of 10 percent.

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