Richland County, SC (WLTX) - Richland County Council has approved the first half of a biennial $1.7 billion budget.
This is the first time that the county has developed a two-part budget. Plans for the massive outline began back in October of 2016.
Fiscal year 2017-2018 includes $885 million for the county. Fiscal year 2018-2019 is expected to have a $882 million budget, but that could increase.
Vice-Chair Bill Malinowski says this can improve long-term planning.
"This is the very first time we've done it," says Malinowski. "So it's somewhat confusing, more time consuming and tedious and it is a way to hopefully move forward and in the long run, conserve funds for the tax payers."
Part of the budget approved on Thursday night includes a $325,000 increase in the Richland Library budget. The library has been planning to expand into the Edgewood neighborhood. This boost in funding can help them reach that goal.
While council approved the library's request, the Richland County Election Commission will not be receiving the $1.9 million they asked for.
Originally, the commission asked for $1.4 million for their annual budget. However, they requested $550,000 more, saying that they are under funded.
"I would not like to see additional long lines for the citizens because they are under funded or if the time for any election comes, they are under funded and we have a debacle," says Councilman Norman Jackson, who was hoping to increase the budget.
"I can understand if there were pressing need, new machines or things of that nature that could be explained and could be a one time expenditure, but to say on a recurring basis that we're going to give a half a million dollars more," says Councilman Seth Rose. "That concerns me more."
The state mandates that Richland County give $1.2 million to the election commission.
Council is expected to come back on July 6th for the third reading of the second half of the budget.