Friday, May 30, 2014
Dorchester County Libraries asked Dorchester County Council for an increase in funding at its annual budget presentation to the council’s Budget, Finance and Purchasing Committee on May 27.
Libraries Director Jennie Redmond asked the committee, which is comprised of the full council, for a .2 mill increase.
By law, certain organizations receive county funds dictated in millage, or tax rate. County Council can vote to change the millage these organizations receive.
“I know an increase in taxes is not anything Council wants to hear because you have to answer to your constituents. For the average Dorchester County taxpayer, with property valued at $200,000, the increase is $1.60 per year, or a medium Coke at McDonalds. For the library that’s $100,000 a year,” Redmond said.
She cited an aging Summerville branch building as the main need for the funds. The building was constructed in 1995 and needs a new roof, which is leaking in places. Redmond said the library was quoted $832,000 to complete the job. The facility also needs six new HVAC units.
“We’re asking that you will give us this. This is a small step towards making those improvements, but we have to maintain the integrity of the building,” she said.
According to Redmond, County Council has not responded to Dorchester County Libraries’ request for millage increases during the last several years.
Several other recipients of county money all gave budget presentations at the meeting.
Dorchester School District Four presented a $22.6 million balanced budget to Council. Officials from the district did note that they were using money from their fund balance, or savings account, to balance the budget.
Superintendent Jerry Montjoy detailed several improvements the district has seen over the past year during his portion of the presentation. He said one of the biggest points of pride is the new partnership between Woodland High School and Trident Technical College that formed the Woodland Honor College, a program that allows high school students to take college level courses that apply for both high school and college credits.
“These courses offered through Trident have been a godsend to our students. They can get up to 30 hours of credit for college while they’re still in high school,” Montjoy said.
He also reported increases in performance areas DD4 previously struggled in: this year 87-88 percent of high school freshman will pass Algebra 1, and the passing rate in U.S. History courses has increased from 43 percent to 64 percent.
Montjoy will retire at the end of next month and also introduced his replacement, Dr. Morris Ravenell, as the new DD4 superintendent.
Other groups that presented their budgets to the Council included the First Circuit Solicitor, First Circuit Public Defender, Dorchester County Fire-Rescue, Ashley River Fire District and Old Fort Fire District.
Following the Budget, Purchasing and Finance Committee meeting, Dorchester County Council held a special called meeting to conduct the second of two public hearings on the budget. No members of the public spoke.
The council will hold its last budget retreat on June 12 in Summerville before voting on third and final reading of the fiscal year 2014-2015 budget on June 16.