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Millage for fire service to increase Print E-mail
Written by Jerry E. Halmon   

Bamberg County Council members gave the first reading approval in title only to its proposed 2014 budget that will see a realignment of the County’s departments into funds and include an increase in millage for fire service. In presenting council with its proposed Fiscal Year 2014 Budget, County Administrator Joey Preston and Internal Auditor Gina Humpries, who is working with the county to get its financial house in order, noted for the first time the various departments of the county will be setup into different funds which includes: The General Fund $5,492,906; Special Revenue $2,876,437; Enterprise Fund $1,016,017; Debt Service Fund $152,615 and Capital Projects $4,700,000, for a total of $14,282,975.

In giving an overview of the 2014 budget, it was noted the budget calls for moving E911, Rural Fire and Road Maintenance out of the General Fund and into Special Revenue Funds. The budget also calls for moving Landfill/Solid Waste out of the General Fund and into Enterprise Fund and, “budgeting for all debt service payments unlike in past years.” Preston explained to council that the 2014 General Fund Budget was not an increase over the FY 2013 Budget, but actually reflected where the county’s money was going.

“You’ve had a General Fund and Debt Service Fund, but all other funds have been going through the General Fund,” Preston said, adding, “that’s one reason you’re having to pay so much money--paying an auditor to redo your books.” Preston noted the General Fund, “actually decreased,” because certain departments are being taken out of the General Fund and put into other funds now.

The 2014 Budget also proposes to, “make Rural Fire Service whole,” by increasing the Rural Fire Service millage from the present 14.7 mills to 21 mills and levying a “one-year” six mill increase for Rural Fire Service to recoup a $92,000 shortfall experienced in that department in 2013. “That levy (14.7 mills) on the books presently dedicated to fire service isn’t enough to cover all expenditures. So, every year there has been a deficit in that fund,” Preston said.

As a result of the increased fire service millage, a $50,000 legal residence homeowner would see a $12.60 increase on their tax notice. On a legal residence valued at $100,000 a homeowner would see an increase of $25.20. It was noted a financially sound fire service would mean maintaining and improving the county’s ISO rating and lower insurance premiums for tax payers. It was also stated the fire service has not received an increase in 16 years. It was stated in the discussion of the 2014 budget that the $30.00 road user fee implemented several years ago doesn’t fully fund road maintenance and should be raised to $33.00.

“This isn’t a perfect budget,” Internal Auditor Gina Humpries stated. “There are still some things we would like to have had time to do, but we ran out of time.” Also in Monday night’s meeting: County Finance Director Thomas M. Thomas reported that year-to-date the county has collected 88 percent of its estimated revenue as of April 23rd. Total revenue collected for the month of April was $513,433. Total revenue collected year-to-date amounted to $6,291,172. On the expenditure side the county spent 89 percent of its total budget with year-to-date expenditures of $6,296,377.

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