Anderson County approves first reading on budget

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By Stan Welch
The Anderson County Council gave first reading approval to the FY 20-21 budget Tuesday with no tax increase and a $27 million decrease from the previous year.

The budget process, like so many things, has been delayed and slowed by the COVID problem, which led to many employees working from home, and complicating the communications between departments that is such a crucial part of the budget process.
County administrator Rusty Burns told The Journal that the budget basically takes a ‘hold your ground’ approach due to the many uncertainties created by COVID, and the administration’s need to prioritize its response to the virus . “This simply doesn’t seem like the time to get too ambitious. There are some projects that we have that will continue to move forward, even if a bit more cautiously. But our last several years have seen a tightening of the fiscal belt anyway. We have greatly improved the fiscal condition of the county, thanks to the foresight and cooperative spirit of the recent county councils.

The following points are highlights of the budget as proposed Tuesday:
NO TAX INCREASE
No Solid Waste Fee Increase
$941,850 decrease in the General Fund budget from the prior year & $27M overall decrease in all funds when compared to FY 20.
$358,000 was cut from operating and contractual in the General Fund.
20 positions frozen all year plus six in the Sheriff’s Office resulting in $1.4M in savings.
The six frozen positions in the Sheriff’s Office will go toward funding year 2 of their pay plan for the six departments that report to him.
There were 45 new positions requested in the FY 21 budget.
The draft of the budget is only recommending two part-time positions in the Detention Center that work forty hours per week & have benefits be transferred to full time positions. This will cost the County no additional funds.
The Administrator is also recommending two laborers in Solid Waste to assist at the Anderson Regional MRF due to the lack of inmate labor.
Incorporates the three Convention & Visitors Bureau employees into the General Fund.
The draft provides for:
The Detention Center medical contract increase of $305,000;
An increase to provide for health insurance charged to the departments from $700 per employee per month to $800 per employee per month;
$1.1M more in facilities to maintain aging buildings and the TTI building;
A $1M increase in Information Technology budget to replace aging infrastructure.
Providing for construction of the new Fleet Services Building.
Providing for new financial management software, jail & civil records, & CAD.
Providing for sewer infrastructure – Exit 14, Welpine, & 6&20.
The budget will require two more readings, as well as public hearing prior to the final vote.