Bunker: County Council to consider all options when looking at FY2020 budget
NORTH AUGUSTA — The proposed Aiken County budget for next year includes a property tax increase, among other tax increases. Thursday night at a North Augusta Chamber of Commerce event, County Council Chairman Gary Bunker told the crowd that Aiken County is going to do its “due diligence” in considering the proposed spending plan.
The proposed budget, which was introduced to Council on Tuesday, includes a property tax millage increase of 3.1 mills, along with a $5 per vehicle increase in road maintenance fees, and a small 911 landline fee increase.
“Aiken County Council is considering options to reduce these tax and fee hikes, if not eliminate them all together,” Bunker told the crowd.
He said after the event that the process will begin next Tuesday, and will include four or five work sessions before the final reading, which has to be done by the end of June.
Bunker said he encourages a line-by-line review of revenues, then general fund expenditures. Lastly, he said, Council will review all the other funds, “which frequently get forgotten, but they have an impact on the general fund, too.”
A few budget items they plan to take a closer look at, Bunker said, include interest revenue, partial self-funding of healthcare, fee in lieu of taxes revenue and vacancy expenditures.
“We have a lot of strings to pull,” Bunker said. “The proposed budget is now in the hands of County Council.
“You have to remember, the budget is drafted by the administrator and his staff. They present it but the buck stops with Council. We’re the ones who are the policy makers and we’re the ones who take the draft budget and stretch it this way and pound it that way and just keep working it until it fits what we want it to be. So the initiative is now with the Council.”
Also speaking at the event – all about the state of the community in North Augusta – were North Augusta Mayor Bob Pettit, Aiken County School District Superintendent Dr. Sean Alford and Col. James Clifford, the U.S. Army garrison commander at Fort Gordon.
At the end of the event, Milledge Murray, historian, was presented with the Citizen of the Year award by the Chamber.