By Stan Welch
The Anderson County Council gave final approval to the 2016-2017 budget, a budget which contained some minor increases.
A one mill in crease will be dedicated for use by the library system, while Tri County Technical College will also receive a small increase in its funding. The solid waste fee per household will increase by two dollars a year, and developers will pay a higher storm water fee.
In reference to the solid waste fee increase, Councilwoman Cindy Wilson raised the issue of recycling, saying that too many people in the county still fail to recycle. She also revisited the issue of the Big Creek landfill and the circumstances under which Allied Waste acquired it many years ago.
“Our former administration made a very nice gift of the landfill to Allied for two million dollars. They currently make an annual profit of twelve to thirteen million dollars, while our costs continue to rise. I would like to see more done to push recycling and reduce our garbage stream, while also renegotiating our contracts to be more favorable to the County.”
Chairman Tommy Dunn agreed with Wilson about the recycling issue, saying that he hoped to make some proposals to the full Council in coming weeks.
Councilwoman Gracie Floyd raised concerns about transfers of funds from the health insurance account to other accounts at the end of the budget year. Citing the constantly growing costs of insurance($640,000 in the last two years), Floyd offered an amendment to the budget that would prohibit any transfers from the health insurance account to other departments, such as roads and bridges.
The issue involved surpluses in the health account, often generated by departments not being fully staffed, or by the death or retirement of various employees, leaving the budgeted funds unused. While the current budget ordinance calls for such surpluses to be returned to the general fund, Floyd sought a tighter restriction, leaving the funds unavailable for any other use. “If we just roll over five dollars to the next year, that’s five dollars less that we need to come up with.”
Floyd’s amendment was passed by a unanimous vote.
The Council also voted to cancel its July 5 meeting, and to postpone the August 2 meeting until the ninth, due to the annual gathering of the South Carolina Association of Counties at Hilton Head that week.
Council also heard from Economic Development Director Burriss Nelson that employment in Anderson County is at an all time high with more than ninety thousand people working. Unemployment is at 4.4 per cent.
Nelson reported that the addition of 3600 manufacturing jobs over the last several years had translated into a total increase of more than twelve thousand jobs.