Crunch Time on Horry County Budget – Updated

Update – Horry County approved its budget by a 7-5 vote including the $1.055 million for Coast RTA.

The Coast RTA funding agreement passed by a 8-4 margin.

The latest version of the funding agreement includes a requirement for quarterly reporting by Coast RTA to the county Administration Committee.

Coast RTA funding will be on a draw down basis of $263,750 per quarter with prior notice to council of where every dollar of county funding will be applied within the overall Coast RTA cost of operations.

Council will not participate in the selection process for a new, permanent General Manager/CEO of the agency, but will have to approve a contract for that person by resolution after the selection is made.

A forensic audit of scope determined by the Coast RTA board will have to be performed and results reported to county council.

A 2010 Coast RTA study of routes will be revisited by the Coast RTA board with a report of recommendations from that new visitation made to county council.

By Paul Gable

Third reading of the Fiscal Year 2014-15 Horry County budget could provide some interesting viewing at tonight’s meeting of Horry County Council.

Central to the discussions will be a new funding agreement with Coast RTA, which will tighten council control over the money it provides Coast RTA, but not nearly to the extent that was called “overreaching” by several council members earlier this month.

Also of concern to some council members is the “hidden tax increase” included in the millage rollup associated with last year’s reassessment of property values throughout the county. Property values showed a net decline due to the housing bubble bust several years ago and a slight increase in millage was needed to balance next year’s county budget.

The following considerations will be in play tonight making the budget discussions very interesting:

A group of council members has no desire to fund Coast RTA with the $1.055 million currently included in the budget per the countywide advisory referendum of 2010.

A group of council members has no desire to vote for a budget that includes a tax increase, hidden inside the millage rollup, but an increase nevertheless.

Eliminating the Coast RTA funding would just about eliminate the need for a tax increase.

Some of those members are the same in both groups, some are not.

The Coast RTA funding agreement must be approved by a separate vote of council in order for Coast RTA to draw its funding grant from the county on a quarterly basis.

Coast RTA is in immediate need of the first quarter funds from the county to have sufficient cash flow to operate across the summer months.

Debate among council members, especially over the proposed new Coast RTA funding agreement, could become very interesting as the effort to gain the majority seven votes needed to pass the agreement plays out.

If the funding agreement gains approval will the budget gain the necessary seven votes to pass? If the funding agreement doesn’t gain approval will the budget gain the necessary seven votes to pass?

Both questions are still up in the air as council prepares for tonight’s meeting.

State law requires all local governments to have a balanced budget in place for the next fiscal year by June 30th of each year.

Leave a Comment