Washington’s big spenders are joined by Beaufort County Council and the county administrator. Not satisfied with the monumental property tax increases voted in 2013, they are hunting new ways to tax and spend.
County Administrator Gary Kubic requested council to identify new spending so to ask voters for a sales tax increase to follow the five-year one just completed for roads. That project was overspent by $52 million early last year and is far from finished. A December 9 Freedom of Information request for an update on the road spending is slow coming. By comparison, the school district has up-to-date construction spending reported on its website.
County Council is considering increasing general fund reserves from 25 percent of expenditures to nearly 42 percent for disasters. However, Kubic states it could be dipped into for providing incentives to bring business here. Disaster? Sounds like a slush fund.
Stu Rodman, chairman of the County Council Finance Committee, stated the school district needed only a 10 percent reserve. Councilman Jerry Stewart claims the county has more risk in a disaster because of roads. The state and towns are responsible for most of the roads. The schools have nearly 40 buildings plus entrance roads and other facilities — arguably more exposure than county.
The financial expert used by the county and school district has often stated that reserves should be at least 15 percent to maintain the current excellent bond ratings. So why 42 percent? Additional funds would come from taxes or spending reductions — like library hours. The current 25 percent sounds reasonable.
Jim Bequette, Lady’s Island