While in work session at its most recent meeting, the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners heard from Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Marquis about the budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

According to Marquis, the proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2021 will be approximately $211.5 million, which equates to an increase of $17.7 million over the budget of Fiscal Year 2020. Just over half of the increase was in the county’s general fund, including the market pay raise for county employees and an increase in healthcare costs for employees. Expenditures in the budget also included 42 new positions to be hired at intervals throughout the year, with 35 of them being positions in public safety.

When looking at revenues, Marquis said, even with the property tax millage rate having been rolled back from what had initially been presented, property tax revenue was projected to increase by $5.8 million as a result of growth seen throughout the county. An additional $3 million was projected in TAVT (Title Ad Valorem Tax) revenue, along with a forecast 6 percent growth in Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax revenue. Grants related to COVID-19 relief efforts were also included, although Marquis said only grants the county knew it had received were reflected in these numbers.

Breaking down property tax revenue to a dollar-by-dollar basis, Marquis pointed out that 68 cents go to the Cherokee County School District, 18 cents is sent to the general fund, 12 cents are earmarked for the county fire fund and two cents are used for repayment of the outstanding parks bonds. He then showed a breakdown of how tax revenue received by the county is used.

“Public safety and judicial count for about 68 percent of the total dollars spent,” Marquis said.

Among the key risks and concerns he pointed out to the commissioners are extensive uses of reserves and the economy’s impact on the county’s revenue sources. Commission Chairman Harry Johnston added he was hopeful the county would be able to reduce the use of reserves over the next year or two.

Marquis rounded out his presentation by reminding the commissioners they would be holding a public hearing on the matter at the next board meeting, with a finalized budget set to be adopted at the first meeting in October.

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