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Council Looks for Cuts in 2019-2020 Budget

Greg Wilson/Anderson Observer

Anderson County Council moved ahead fiscal year 2019-2020 budget for Anderson County which includes a one percent cut in every department to ensure stage two of the plan to bring employee salaries up to state/regional levels. 

As part of a budget workshop Tuesday night, council said that all departments should be included in the cuts to continue the approved raises in the current budget after an outside study found Anderson County employees were not paid as well as neighboring/comparable counties. The low salaries were leading to a number of experienced employees leaving Anderson for similar jobs in other counties. 

Council also discussed a proposed road fee to help the county pave/repair/maintain the 1,535 miles of Anderson County roads.  

Proposed exemptions for the $25 per vehicle fee for citizens 64 and older, those with disabled tags and those with an antique vehicle tag, were considered, as was a a lower fee that would not include exemptions.

The approximately 215,000 vehicles in Anderson County would generate $5.3 million, which would be used exclusively for roads. With exemptions, approximately 55,000 is an estimate of all proposed exemptions, would generate $4 million. 

Anderson County currently needs approximately $8 million annually to take care of the roads. 

Anderson County Councilman Brett Sanders suggested a potentially lower, no-exemption vehicle fee of approximately $14, which would be easier to administrate, and generate just over $3 million for county roads. 

Currently 27 counties in South Carolina have vehicle fees. Horry County has the highest fees at $50 per year, while Abbeville County boasts the lowest - and oddest - at $13.99. The statewide average is roughly $24 per year per vehicle.  

Anderson County Council Vice Chairman Ray Graham said finding a way to fund the county’s roads is crucial. Graham said as the owner of a small business, a vehicle fee is not going to make that much difference. 

“It’s fair and and wipes out a lot of arguments,” Graham said. 

“If we (businesses) have a vehicle, we are making money from that vehicle, $15 more is not going to make that much difference.” 

Council also moved ahead with the idea of brining the county’s building & codes fees in line with neighboring counties. 

“We’re trying not to burden the taxpayers,” said Anderson County Council Chairman Tommy Dunn, who is a builder. “I think it needs to be adjusted gradually.” 

Council asked for clarification of a plan to increase building and codes fees before final approval. 

The current plan being considered would call for a an increase based on the size of the building, which would equate to $838.50 for a 2,000 sq. ft. house with a 450 sq. ft. garage. The current fee is $512 for the same building. The cost for the same housing permit in Spartanburg County is $907. 

If the plan is approved, the total fees would generate a projected $500,000.

The  driveway apron fees for new construction would be $1,350, which Dunn said only covers the actual cost to the county for the construction.  

Anderson County Councilwoman Cindy Wilson, who favors using the same fees as Spartanburg County, said the fees have not been changed since 1988.

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