South Carolina governments are supposed to have their Fiscal Year 2021 budgets in place by July 1, but as of Wednesday, the city of Loris didn't have their budget ready to go, citing complications stemming from COVID-19.
Loris City Council voted Monday to keep operating under the FY20 budget and postponed the second and final reading of the proposed $3.2 million FY21 budget in order to tweak it some more before final passage. Second reading and a public hearing is tentatively scheduled for Monday.
Councilman Mike Suggs said he feels the public needs another chance to see the budget once it is balanced and to offer comments before it's ratified. A public hearing has already been held but that was before the city made changes to the budget.
Councilors said during a June 22 meeting that they needed to remove $75,000 allocated for a city administrator in order to balance the budget.
That prompted administrator Dennis Drozdak to announce he was leaving that position effective Tuesday.
Drozdak was hired as an interim administrator in August 2019, a month after Damon Kempski resigned from the position. He has been working as a contract employee, not an employee of the city, and was the acting City Clerk Treasurer.
But the city ended up finding an extra $1.2 million for the budget after an audit turned up errors in the city's water and sewer billing department. Some businesses and residents were being billed a lower rate than they should have been paying.
Mayor Todd Harrelson said after Monday’s meeting that the city will use the newly-discovered funds to pay for he administrator position.
Even though the position is now in the proposed budget, Drozdak did not change his mind about resigning. Tuesday was his final day on the job.
Harrelson said information to advertise the position has been sent to the Municipal Association of South Carolina but, as of Tuesday, the job was not posted on the organization’s website.
Harrelson said he expects there will be enough money in the new budget to give workers of the city a pay increase.
However, when the amount of the increase and when it will go into effect is still unknown.
The mayor said he expects the economy will improve in the next few months and council will be able to vote on the pay raises.