It’s the issue he has spent most of his time on in the last few weeks and it’s one that has gotten a lot of press in the same time frame.
“My day is spent flipping those pages,” Sinclair said.
It’s a big issue as local governing agencies — including the county, City of Union and the Union County School District — are facing continued shortfalls and having to take a critical look at ways to balance their budgets.
County council approved — in title only — the first reading of the county’s fiscal year 2010-11 budget during its Tuesday meeting, but a final draft is not near being completed.
Sinclair and Union County Sheriff David Taylor made sure council members and the public knew, however, that while the City of Union is cutting funding for the annual Fourth of July celebration at Foster Park and those used for funeral blocks, the county has no plans of making the same move.
The supervisor said the Fourth of July event is a joint venture and is still in the county budget. Sinclair said council will discuss it in the joint meeting with Union City Council on Monday, April 19.
“As a good community service, and maybe in a unity sense, it is even a need, especially as we remember we are at war and our own soldiers are overseas,” the supervisor said.
Taylor told council members the cut of funeral escorts and blocks was not an option on the table for the county.
“We will continue to provide the service to the public with or without the city’s help,” the sheriff said.
“We support the sherriff’s position on funeral escorts,” Sinclair said.
But the supervisor didn’t hesitate to point out it’s decisions like those recently made by the city that governing agencies are being faced with in light of their budget constraints. The county itself is facing a possible $961,000 shortfall for the next fiscal year.
“We have to pay attention to the budget,” the supervisor said.
In light of the current budget situation, council member Kacie Petrie suggested the county take a critical look at positions that are vacant or become vacant in the future to determine if they need to be filled.
She isn’t suggesting cutting any positions, but instead taking a good look at whether or not the county needs a position before simply hiring someone to fill it. She added if a position must be filled, it should be offered to existing employees first.
“That becomes a budget savings,” Sinclair said.
Taylor did just that when a deputy’s position came open in his department. He has not filled that position yet but was recently informed by the school district it will not fund a school resource officer for the Jonesville and Lockhart schools next fiscal year.
The sheriff plans to keep that officer employed by paying him through that open position, thus keeping the resource officer where he needs to be.
Sinclair will bring a proposed county budget back to council members and allow them to go line by line and say yes or no on each of the numbers.
There are no easy answers to the budget issues governing bodies face but the supervisor told the council and the public the county will get through.
In other business Tuesday, county council:
• Approved the purchase and installation of a new sound system in the courtroom. Union County Clerk of Court Freddie Gault informed council the system will be paid for by both his office and the office of the 16th Circuit Solicitor. Kevin Brackett has agreed to pay for $15,000 of the project from his office’s budget and Gault will use $7,000 out of his current budget to pay for the new system. The new system will include new microphones in several locations of the courtroom and new speakers. Gault said the system will be similar to those in some churches.
• Approved the first reading of an amendment to the county’s Hospital Board Ordinance. Interviews for prospective Union Hospital District Board of Trustees will begin Monday, April 19, at 3 p.m. at the courthouse. The council has four seats to fill this year. Sinclair received the new law — signed by South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford — on Tuesday and the county’s ordinance has to be changed to reflect the change in law. Find more information on this issue in the Friday edition of The Union Daily Times.
• Heard a renewed complaint and plea for assistance from Steven Broadbent in regard to the county’s building codes ordinance, specifically in reference to junk yards. Broadbent and his wife live next to a junk yard that has been notified it is not in compliance with the county’s ordinance. The matter has been referred to the county’s attorney and the council is reviewing its building codes. Broadbent’s main goal was simply to remind council members the issue still exists.