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Citizens express concern about the County's budget Print E-mail
Written by Jerry E. Halmon   

Bamberg County Council members gave third and final reading approval to its 2012- 2013 budget of $7,109,344 at a special call meeting Wednesday evening at the Bamberg County Courthouse. It was noted that the County’s 2012-2013 budget is “significantly less” by approximately $400,000 than last year and included no millage increase. The millage rate for this year will reportedly remain “right at” 123 mills.

Council member Clair Guess said he wanted to thank County Finance Director Thomas M. Thomas and Interim Administrator Booker Patrick and “all those people who work for Bamberg County in making this year’s budget possible.” Council vice Chairwoman Alzena Robinson, who called the budget “a work in progress”, said the County would do its best to not have a millage increase.

During the public comments portion of the meeting several citizens in attendance had questions about the budget:

Mike Duval had a question about the two (TANs) or Tax Anticipation Notes the County took out last year to cover a shortfall in the budget, which was noted had been paid off with a bond.

“I know that there are things that come up,” Duval said adding “are there any assurance that-that doesn’t come up this year? Councilwoman Robinson said that she couldn’t guarantee that. Councilman Guess said there was no guarantee what would happen during the year.

“It’s impossible to do,” Guess said, adding we can’t control the state legislature, which he called the “last nail in the coffin.”

Duval also had a question about $37,000 allocated for the Family Circle Water Project last year. It was noted that approximately $40,000 was placed in this year’s budget under Contingency Funds for the project that was reportedly not approved by the Lower Savannah Council of Government in its present form. It was also noted in discussions of the budget that money for an animal control agent wasn’t included in the budget.

City of Bamberg Fire Chief Timmie Taylor, who was in attendance at the meeting, wanted to know the amount of funds allocated for the fire service in the budget and if money left over would be rolled over to the following year. Chief Taylor was informed that $225,000, or the same amount as last year was allocated for the fire service this year and funds are rolled over to the next year.

Sarah Noel wanted to know about the possibility of hiring new people in the budget. Chair Chris Wilson noted the amount of money in contingency funds was “small” and he would doubt that there would be opportunities for new hires and it would be looked at on a “case-by-case basis.”

County Council Chairman Chris Wilson also thanked Interim Administrator Booker Patrick “for coming out of retirement to help with the budget.”

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