No furloughs for county workers

Despite a 6.5 percent cut in local governmental funding, Bamberg County officials do not see any county workers receiving furloughs.

Bamberg County finance director Thomas Thomas told county council members at their regular monthly meeting January 5 that the county has spent 3.8 mills of its budgeted 7.48 mills after the first six months of this fiscal year.

Thomas stated that because of a 6.5 percent budget cut one line item originally budgeted for $1 million was cut a total of $65,000.

“We had some things we were anticipating higher numbers, that have come in lower, that has helped to cover that,” County Administrator Rose Dobson-Elliott said.

When asked if the county was considering furloughs for any county employees Dobson- Elliott said the county’s offices were already minimally staffed.

“We have so many offices that are one or two people offices that we really can’t afford to furlough,” Dobson-Elliott said. “If I furloughed anybody in the tax collector’s office there would be no one to collect taxes, it is really something that we can’t consider” She said.

Council members suggested that an itemized breakdown of all county expenses be kept.

Also during the meeting:

County Administrator Rose Dobson-Elliott reported that the county had entered a Mutual Use Agreement to use a landsite with Colleton County, which is within a mile of the Little Swamp Community at no cost to the county. She noted that the county also has an agreement with Allendale County for use of a landsite near Rivers Bridge.

Reported that the county website has been updated and is up and running for the last six months. The site received 1620 visits for an average of four minutes, with 86 percent coming from new visits. “It’s picking up use,” She said.

Also during the meeting, BCHNC Interim CFO Carl Menist introduced new BCHNC CEO Roy Vinson. Vinson stated, “I look forward to serving the Bamberg community and working with each of you individually and collectively.”

Menist reported that the hospital and nursing center had a combined profit of $178,000 at the end of November with $130,000 coming from the hospital and $48,000 from the nursing center. Menist stated that revenue was up $245,000 over November. The facility collected $2.1 million for the month, which was $533,000 over the previous month. Asked about the facility’s overall financial condition, Menist use a sports analogy. “We’re in a tough league, it’s a tight game right now, we’re going in the right direction,” he said.

Bamberg County Fire Coordinator Brenna Hancock reported that 8 percent of firefighters did not pass their physicals which means they can’t wear respirators on a fire ground until cleared by a physician or cardiologist.

Hancock reported that the fire department had three functional exercises in 2008. Created and adopted a standard operating guideline. She reported that Hunters Chapel and Little Swamps’ ISOs were (9). She stated that the five goals set for 2008-09 were being completed and worked on including; Fire trucks were purchased for Little Swamp and Hunters Chapel, “which will help save lives.” She reported that Clear Pond received a truck from FEMA through a grant, and Denmark FD recently learned that they will receive a FEMA grant for a new tanker. Hancock thanked council for the physicals the firefighters received which she said “would save lives.”

Also during the meeting council members voted unanimously to elect District 7 councilman Clair P. Guess, III Chairman of Bamberg County Council for the year beginning January 1, 2009 and ending December 31, 2009. Council voted to elect District 2 Councilwoman Alzena Robinson Vice-Chairwoman.

In the public comments portion of the meeting: Rev. Rufus Jamison reiterated the issues he had with visitations at the county jail and a canopy at the emergency room at the hospital.

County Council Chairman Clair P. Guess stated that Rev. Jamison’s concerns were “high on the agenda, we do want to see what’s going on,” Chairman Guess said. Council voted to turn Jamison’s concerns over to the Public Safety Committee.

Denmark resident Sarah Noel asked if there would be a time when the public would be able to have a tour of the new renovations at the hospital and nursing center. Chairman Guess stated that the question would be how to have a tour and not disturb the patients?