The financial picture for Sumter County government continued to improve in January, as the county’s surplus for the 2016-17 fiscal year so far grew to more than $6.7 million, members of the Sumter County Council learned during Tuesday night’s meeting.
According to charts provided to council members during their Fiscal, Tax and Property Committee meeting, county revenues for the first seven months of the fiscal year – through January – were nearly $34.1 million, almost $4.9 million ahead of schedule. During the same time, expenditures were more than $1.8 million below expectations.
“While we’re pleased certainly with the numbers, it’s something we’ll watch throughout the year,” said Sumter County Administrator Gary Mixon, noting county expenditures often increase in Spring as weather improves.
At their previous meeting, council began plans to make some additional purchases – a used fire truck to be posted at the Dabbs Fire Station near Interstate 95, and an irrigation system from a Myrtle Beach golf course to replace the dated system on the front nine of Crystal Lakes Golf Course – at a combined cost of $113,000.
The six council members on hand Tuesday night – councilman Eugene Baten was absent – once again approved the additional expenditures for second reading.
In fact, all of the votes Tuesday night, all of which would most likely be considered “positive” projects by most, were unanimous, including finalization of the economic incentive agreement with Mount Franklin Foods, the El Paso-based company recruited to the local area to occupy the facility in Sumter Industrial Park formerly occupied by Au’Some Candies.
Part of the incentive proposal for Mount Franklin includes a reimbursement grant of up to $300,000 to repair the roof at the old Au’Some Candies location. Johnathan Bryan, attorney for Sumter County, pointed out the incentive package offered the confectionary company includes potential clawbacks for Sumter County to recoup the money if the company doesn’t reach target figures of $10 million in capital investment and 225 jobs.
And while the finances for Mount Franklin were finalized, council also advanced another recruitment effort that has seen lots of speculation about this year.
“Project Volcano” as it is now know, is the much talked about effort by both city and council officials to place a company in the Black River Spec Building near Sumter Airport.
As part of the recent effort, council gave initial approval to a “title-only” ordinance authorizing the sell and/or transfer of the property recently acquired by the county from the City of Sumter. Bryan, who presented the ordinance, that has yet to have any details finalized or disclosed, said Jay Schwedler, executive director of Sumter Economic Development, is in the midst of negotiating with the potential company.
In other action, county council also introduced the county’s newest administrative employee, Joe Perry, who will serve as the county’s new communications coordinator; and gave final reading to an ordinance to create guidelines for establishing solar farms in Sumter County.