Council asks state not to pass bill on to county

-A A +A
By Chris Sardelli

Lancaster County Council unanimously passed a resolution Monday objecting to proposed state funding cuts that could lead to property tax increases here.

The resolution was developed in response to a piece of legislation being considered by the state Senate, Bill H 3581.

The bill could cut the county’s local government fund, which contains money the state pays to the county to run state operations, including pay for solicitors and public defenders and funding state agencies such as the Department of Social Services.

The cuts could force County Council to raise property taxes for county residents.

If the bill passes, the projected shortfall in funding is $636,815, the equivalent of 2.77 property tax mils.

“This puts council in the position to either cut something else in the county or raise taxes,” said County Administrator Steve Willis. “Basically, this is forcing counties to cut somewhere else to help keep providing state services.”

Willis said the amount of the cut could change if Gov. Mark Sanford refuses to accept money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, more commonly known as the stimulus bill.

As part of the resolution, council is encouraging all property owners in the county to contact their county and state representatives and oppose the bill.

Council will send its resolution to state Sen. Mick Mulvaney, R-District 16, and state Sen. Vincent Sheheen, D-District 27. Willis said the resolution is similar to others being developed in counties throughout the state.

Councilwoman Kathy Sistare commended Willis for keeping council up to date on the issue and for working on the resolution.

“I just want people to understand the impact this is going to have on day-to-day operations,” Sistare said.

Councilman Cotton Cole said he thinks what the Legislature is considering is unfair.

“They’re cutting funding for services and then leaving us to pick up the bill,” Cole said. “It means we’ll have to cut services someplace else. But if we cut funding it won’t be for state services. It will be for things like library services.”

Contact reporter Chris Sardelli  at csardelli@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 416-8416