UNION COUNTY — A budget totaling more than $16 million, an investment in the county, the transfer of county property to an educational institution, the transfer of the county jail from the sheriff to council, a bond sale for a fire department, and assisting the library in obtaining tax credits were on the agenda of the May meeting of Union County Council.
Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve second reading of the ordinance adopting the county budget for fiscal 2018-2019.
The proposed budget projects general fund revenues totaling $16,261,116 including property taxes ($9,254,700), sales and other miscellaneous taxes ($380,000), fees and fines ($635,000), licenses and permits ($120,000), intergovernmental ($1,496,200), charges for services ($2,862,000), investment earnings ($13,000), miscellaneous ($422,000), grants ($40,000). Also included in the general fund revenue total are transfers-in from E-911 ($174,924), Victim’s Advocate ($69,725), Economic Development ($59,801), Title IV-D ($54,283), and Hospitality/Accommodations ($65,000). The total also includes commitment from the Uncommitted General Fund Balance ($509,466).
Under state law, county budgets cannot operate with a deficit and therefore expenditures cannot exceed revenues and in the 2018-2019 budget they don’t.
The budget projects $16,261,116 in expenditures including:
• $607,483 for Supervisor, Council, and HR
• $165,630 for IT
• $349,200 for Magistrate
• $160,481 for Probate Judge
• $120,605 for Circuit Court
• $114,115 for Public Defender
• $248,308 for Solicitor’s Office
• $471,156 for Clerk of Court
• $95,125 for Voter Registration/Election Commission
• $35,522 for County Attorney
• $112,500 for Building Inspector
• $209,172 for Tax Assessor
• $84,926 for Delinquent Tax Office
• $169,486 for Treasurer’s Office
• $125,089 for Auditor’s Office
• $180,052 for Building Superintendent
• $2,828,191 for Non-Departmental
• $2,184,144 for Sheriff’s Office
• $170,377 for Code Enforcement
• $126,749 for Animal Control
• $114,012 for Coroner
• $1,119,093 for Jail Operation
• $952,352 for Detention Center
• $207,791 for E-911 & Communications
• $676,403 for Emergency Services
• $526,278 for County Maintenance
• $336,714 for Equipment Shop
• $30,700 for Health Department
• $42,000 for Department of Social Services
• $65,748 for Veteran’s Affairs
• $71,725 for Victim Advocate
• $268,170 for Recreation Department
• $75,128 for Stadium
• $429,782 for Recycling
• $152,360 for Airport
• $423,909 for Timken Sports Complex
• $2,210,640 for Emergency Medical Services
In other business, council voted unanimously to approve second reading of an ordinance authorizing a fee-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement between the county and “Project TRP.”
The ordinance states that under the agreement the county will “accept certain negotiated fees in lieu of ad valorem taxes and provide certain special source revenue credits with respect to the establishment and/or expansion of certain facilities in the county” and provide “certain other development incentives” to the project.
Project TRP could be a code name for a new industry or the expansion of an existing industry. It is a common practice in economic development when agreements are being negotiated between a public entity like the county and a private entity like a business or industry, for the former to assign the latter a code name. The code name remains in place until the process is completed when the identity of the private entity is announced.
When asked about the identity of Project TRP in April after council approved first reading of the ordinance, Union County Supervisor Frank Hart declined to reveal it, saying only that “it is additional investment in Union County so we’re excited about it.”
Council also voted unanimously to approve third and final reading of an ordinance authorizing Hart to execute an agreement transferring county-owned property to the Union-Laurens Commission on Higher Education.
The ordinance describes the property as the “Annex Building” and states that the commission seeks to obtain it from the county either by purchasing it outright or leasing it.
The Annex Building is the old Union Federal Bank on Main Street which currently houses the county Veterans Affairs, Child Support, Code Enforcement, and Tourism offices.
Hart said that plans are for the Veterans Affairs and Child Support offices to remain in the Annex for the forseeable future, but the others will be relocated soon. He said USC Union will use the building to support new programming offered by the college.
Council also voted to approve second reading of an ordinance authorizing the “issuance and sale of a general obligation bond” for the Kelly-Kelton Fire District of up to $172,045.
The ordinance states that the funds raised from the sale of the bond will be used for the purchase and installation of fire protection equipment for the fire district.
Council also voted to approve first reading of an ordinance authorizing the lease of the Union County Carnegie Library — which the ordinance states is owned by the county — to the Union County Library Historic Tax Credit Partnership, LLC.
The ordinance states that the lease is designed to enable the library to “take advantage of the syndication of certain federal and state historic tax credits” to help it defray the costs of the ongoing renovation and upgrade of the library.
The renovation and upgrade of the library is projected to cost $1.8 million of which the library has raised $1.6 million, including a $1.25 million allocation from the State Lottery Fund.
Council also voted unanimously to approve third and final reading of an ordinance authorizing the “devolution and transfer” of the Union County Jail from the Sheriff’s Office to council.
The ordinance states that in March Sheriff David Taylor presented council with a document “devolving, transferring, and conveying all powers and duties” regarding the jail to the council. With the transfer, the ordinance states the county supervisor will have the authority to “appoint a qualified facilities manager” for the jail.
Hart said that the transfer reflects the fact that there are two detention-related facilities — the jail and the county detention center — of which the detention center has been operated by the county while the jail has been operated by the sheriff’s office. He said that combining both facilities under the county will allow the facilities to share correctional officers and other resources.
Council also voted unanimously to authorize the county to pay an outstanding invoice from the Sheriff’s Office for the upfitting of patrol vehicles. The county will pay $13,357.14 which will be taken out of a contingency fund for the Sheriff’s Office.
Council also vote unanimously to advertise for applicants to fill vacancies on the Union County Development Board.