Dorchester County officials worried about its finances

Dorchester County officials worried about finances


Dorchester County leaders are worried about their finances.

Monday night, the county is scheduled to vote on next year's budget, and administrators are facing tough decisions on how to spend their money.

The county has seen its population jump up 50 percent from 2000 to 2013 but is now facing a revenue shortfall.

"Historically, we've been able to rely on revenue growth,” Bill Hearn, Dorchester County Council’s Chairman said. “We haven't really had that."

The county’s Chief Financial Officer says they’re still waiting to see more money from the increase in people.

"We see a lot of growth beginning to happen in the county but that hasn't necessary translated yet into tax revenues yet or fee revenues,” Justin Powell said.

"New industry, new jobs, they happen on a delayed basis,” Hearn said. “You could have new industry coming online now, but you won't feel the positive impact of that for three, four, five years."

South Carolina decreased its local government fund for the seventh consecutive year, which left Dorchester County with $1.8 million less than it expected to have.

"The biggest concern in the budget is really the inability to hire public safety jobs,” Hearn said. “That's worrisome."

This year, the county planned for two more EMS dispatchers, four new deputies and a 1.8% raise for county employees, but with less money, those plans are now on hold.

"It's something that the average citizen may not think about on a daily basis, but it is something that when you need that service you expect to be there and to be fully staffed and fully funded," Hearn said.

Dorchester County is still satisfied with being able to keep the same services it had this past year.

"Looking at our budget going forward, there may not be a lot in there, but at the same time, we're not having to go in there and cut right now,” Powell said.

The meeting is at the county building in St. George and starts at 7 pm.