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County Should Face Off With State on Unfunded Mandates

web posted April 11, 2011

A Column by the Editor
COLUMN – The Edgefield County Council will hold a second work session on the budget tonight on a budget that has more red numbers than black due to dwindling revenues. Thanks in large part to the state cutting the Aid to Subdivisions (or Local Government Fund or LGF) by an estimated 20 to 22% this year, reducing funding levels below the statutory limits (laws are for other people, not the government) to levels of the mid 1990's. If the state wants to cut funding, so be it. The county should return the favor.

If the law requires a funding level and the state elected leaders want to ignore that and cut funding further, then every state mandated funding of other agencies by the county should be cut by the same level, even if it exceeds their requirements by law.

If laws mean nothing to state legislators, why should it apply to local leaders?

Right off the top, the ABBE Library System should be cut 20%. Last year they received $179,750 and requested $185,000 this year. Placing the same funding cap imposed by the state, the county could save nearly $36,000.

Piedmont Tech, who requested $115,585 this year and was given $43,000 last year - is automatically on the chopping block at a savings of nearly $10,000 from last year's funding level.

I could go on down the line from the Department of Social Services, Department of Health, and a myriad of other state mandates agencies that should see the same funding reductions. Saving that would help the county make it through these tough times, rather than keep state owned and mandated agencies alive.

If they are so important, let the state pay for them and get out of the pockets of the county citizens.  And if the state's promised funding to the county is cut back to levels of the 1990's, maybe the county should follow suit and reduce budgets to the same levels.

If those agencies and NGO's want to cry, let them cry to the local legislative delegation, not the county council.

Due to the economy, the county could not raise taxes if they had to in order to cover the loss of revenues handed down by the state. But they still want us to cover their costs of services "they" provide regardless of the negative impact on the county taxpayer, who also pays state taxes to fund the same services.

The state has cut the LGF by well over 40% in the past three years. However, that same reduction has not been seen in state mandated funding by the county to state agencies, and even some NGO's.

Our form of government works from the bottom up, not the top down. It is time for Edgefield County, and other counties, to stand upon that principle.

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