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Richland County Council discusses FY 2024 budget plans

In a Thursday budget work session, county officials talked about plans for the FY 2024 budget, including some potential rate increases.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Richland County Council continued discussions during an FY 2024 budget work session on Thursday with a fiscal outlook of solid waste, utilities, and Owens Field airport.

"Right now it's a general discussion about the expenditures that each system has and what are the revenues that are needed to make them self-sustaining," Richland County Administrator Leonardo Brown said.

Presentations were given by representatives from three departments working off of 'enterprise' funds. Brown says these are funds that operate like a business, and they include Owens Fields airport, solid waste services, and utilities

Solid waste and utilities both cited a need for additional funds in the form of revenue as a result of increased expenses.

"How do we continue to move things forward when outside influences such as inflation affect the organization?"

Bill Davis, Richland County's director of utilities, highlighted changes and goals the department has reached in the past year, including hiring two staff positions for preventative maintenance and asset protection and working with DHEC to meet new lead and copper pipe rules.

"We are at 86% staffed and that's pretty good with some of our neighbors down at 30-something percent, some at 60%, so having 86% is really good."

Davis also discussed potential additions to water rates in the form of a base $3 per month increase and an $8 per month hydrant fee. 

The solid waste department also discussed a similar 5% increase in rates for trash collection. 

However, Brown said these numbers are not permanent and could fluctuate, or result in no changes.

"Prices have gone up. We're being infected by inflation," Brown said. "How do we continue to sustain the system when things are rising? And this is just an awareness for the council in the grand scheme of the entire budget." 

Brown reiterated that these discussions are not official proposals and are subject to change once the county council begins its full budget process in June.

The County council's next regular session is May 2 at 6 p.m.

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