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Calhoun County residents may see a tax increase.

County Council gave unanimous second reading on Monday to the county's $13.7 million general fund budget for the next fiscal year.

The budget includes a 2-mill tax increase on county residents.

This translates into a $16 a year increase on a $200,000 home and an $8 a year increase on a $100,000 home.

The new fiscal year begins July 1, 2019 and runs through June 30, 2020.

The third and final reading of the budget will be held June 24. A public hearing will be held before the final reading.

The general fund budget will increase by $514,708, which is a 3.9 percent increase over last year.

"We have additional revenue coming in from different industries, so that increased our budget," Calhoun County Finance Director Denise Christmas said. “We got new revenues from the state as well."

On the expenditure side, Christmas said the increase is due to the county's medical physician contract with Emergency Medical Services going up 44 percent and legal fees increasing 30 percent.

Other budget items include:

• A 2.8 percent, or $35,000, increase in the county's health insurance.

• A 2 percent cost-of-living salary increase for county employees.

• A $7,000 increase for Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College and a $5,000 increase in the county's Disabilities and Special Needs Board.

• The county's capital budget is $3 million, down from $5.7 million last year. The largest capital item is infrastructure.

• The water budget increased by 8.4 percent, from $886,000 to $960,000. The budget increase will mean residents in the upper part of the county will see water rate increases of about $2 per month.

• The wastewater budget increased by 9.5 percent from $122,950 to $134,600. Wastewater rates will increase by 3 percent to match the City of Cayce’s increase. The county currently has its wastewater treated by the city.

• Calhoun Hills Golf Complex’s budget of $350,000 is about $50,000 lower than last year.

• The Sandy Run Fire District is increasing its operating millage by .12 and adding 2 mills on to their existing 2-mill budget in order retain/maintain its fund balance. This will make the total millage for the fire district is 4.12 mills.

The increase is needed due to the lawsuit against the county over the capital projects sales tax, Christmas said.

Two county residents are suing county council, claiming the county’s planned use of the tax violates state law. Two of these projects involve ladder truck purchases for the Sandy Run Fire Department.

Christmas said the additional millage will be needed to help pay for the trucks the county previously expected to buy with the capital project sales tax.

• The Calhoun County Rural Fire District will see its budget decrease to $580,000, down from $597,000 last year.

In other matters:

• Council unanimously approved an 83-page Sandy Run Area Plan, which addresses future land use and development in the Sandy Run area of Calhoun County through 2045.

The plan, which was revealed to the public in several meetings, recommends rural preservation as well as rural neighborhoods and the continued use of residential septic systems rather than public sewer. The rationale is to leave public sewer capacity for industrial and commercial development with an eye toward enhancing the county's tax base.

The plan also recommends about $40,000 worth of highway and intersection improvements to include: the widening of Old Sandy Run Road at I-26 to three lanes; the widening of Old State Road north of Savany Hunt Creek to four lanes and the extension of the frontage road on the west side of I-26 to a two-lane road.

Intersection improvements suggested by the plan include: placing traffic signals and left turn lanes at the Old State Road (U.S. 21) and Old Sandy Run Road intersection; adding left turn lanes at Valley Ride Road and Sirens Drive and creating a roundabout at Old State Road (U.S. 176) and Columbia Road (U.S. 21).

The document will be posted on the county's website and a county officials encourage the public to review it.

• County Administrator Ted Felder said the appropriate agencies have been contacted regarding the potential sale of the county's landfill permit to a private developer.

The county is planning to close the landfill currently situated on Purple Martin Drive in St. Matthews.

Felder said the developer would need to go through the appropriate measures in order to build a landfill at another location.

• Council gave unanimous approval for the county to renew its lease with the Town of St. Matthews Police Department, allowing the department to remain housed at the John Ford Community Center.

• Felder said the county's Recreation Department received a grant of $5,000 for the county’s “First Tee” program from the S.C. Junior Golf Association.

• Council approved its $8,000 match for a $40,000 Parks and Recreation Development Grant to enhance recreational equipment in the county.

• The county's annual delinquent tax sale will be Nov. 4, 2019 beginning at 10 a.m. in County Council Chambers.

• Felder encouraged the public to review and participate in the Lower Savannah Council of Governments’ 2045 long-range transportation plan survey. The survey results will have an impact on how much federal money the county receives for the next 25 years for transportation projects. The survey is on the county's website.

• Council unanimously appointed Gary Jones to the Lower Savannah Council of Governments Workforce Development Board.

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Contact the writer: gzaleski@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5551. Check out Zaleski on Twitter at @ZaleskiTD.

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Staff Writer

Gene Zaleski is a reporter/staff writer with The Times and Democrat.

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