State Funding Shifts To Growing Urban Counties From SC To The Detriment Of Rural People | New
Now that the 2020 census figures are official, South Carolina’s fastest growing counties will receive more public funding, as the money is tied to population changes.
This is good news for the growing countries led by Horry and Berkeley.
But their gains will be losses for South Carolina’s declining rural counties, some of which are struggling to attract residents and a tax base.
Counties including Orangeburg and Florence will see some of their state aid cut and given to rapidly growing counties.
“The great counties will get away with this no matter what,” Republican state treasurer Curtis Loftis said. “The same counties that were poor when I was a kid 65 years ago are getting poorer, and it’s heartbreaking.”
Think of state aid, known as Local Government Funds, as a cake that 46 counties share based on their population. Counties can only get larger slices if other counties get smaller slices.
As of this month, 11 counties will receive a larger share of the fund. They are: Horry, Berkeley, York, Greenville, Charleston, Spartanburg, Lancaster, Dorchester, Beaufort, Lexington and Jasper.
The remaining 35 counties all have a population that grew less than the state average, and two dozen of them had fewer people in 2020 than in 2010. South Carolina’s population grew by 10 , 7% over the decade.
Horry County, home to the Myrtle Beach area, will get the biggest annual funding due to population growth – an additional $ 2.1 million. Orangeburg County will lose the most; $ 738,552.
“If you’re Horry, you say that of course is what should happen because they’ve got more people,” said Tim Winslow, executive director of the SC Association of Counties.
While Sorry County will see the largest population gain in state funding, it accounts for just 1% of the county’s budget, a spokesperson said.
In Berkeley County, which is the second-biggest winner behind Horry, officials said the county has been paying to serve a growing population since 2010 and it is good that state funding is now catching up.
“Every department in the county is affected by growth and we need to keep pace,” said Berkeley supervisor Johnny Cribb. “Even after this increase, Berkeley County is expected to grow from 6,000 to 8,000 (people) next year, and it will be another 10 years before the number is increased again.”
For Berkeley, the 2020 census is worth an additional $ 1.33 million per year. This represents about 1.3 percent of the county’s annual budget.
“Every year, just for us to give our employees an increase in the cost of living and keep up with the increase in health insurance, it costs more than that,” Cribb said.
The County of Florence would like to have an additional $ 1.3 million. Instead, this county will lose $ 590,434 according to the SC Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office.
“Half a million dollars is substantial when you look at it,” said Florence KG County Administrator “Rusty” Smith Jr.
He said fortunately the state has approved a new fund to help slow growing rural counties this year, which will offset part of the loss of the Local Governments Fund.
“I think that in the end, Florence County will lose money but not all of it,” Smith said.
Winslow said the new Rural County Stabilization Fund is not meant to be a substitute, but for some counties it “compensates for the sting of lost income due to population.”
Changes in county funding related to the census traditionally occurred in July of the year after the census was taken, at the start of the state’s fiscal year. This time, because census figures are released later than usual, counties will see the change in their state aid payments in October when the second quarter payments go to counties.
“In the past, when the census was released in April, counties had at least some idea of what the change would be,” said Frank Rainwater, executive director of the SC Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office.
The Census Bureau’s annual population estimates have long indicated that money would be redistributed from rural counties to urban counties in South Carolina when the 2020 census was completed.
What counties didn’t know until recently was how much the Local Government Fund – the pie – could grow before it was cut.
This year, the total fund increased by $ 17.92 million, to reach $ 251.66 million, relieving the pain of small counties somewhat and adding to the momentum gained by the 11 largest counties. .
Smith, in Florence County, said he was happy the Rural County Stabilization Fund has emerged this year. Without it, the loss of $ 590,434 in state aid due to the census count “would be devastating.”
Slow growing and losing population counties have benefited from the fact that state funding is only adjusted every ten years, as they have been collecting state aid for years based on the former population.
Meanwhile, rapidly growing counties have had to provide services to growing populations while their aid is adjusted.
Cribb said more residents means a county needs more sheriff’s assistants and emergency medical workers, more deeds to register, and more services of all kinds.
“A million (dollars) coming from anywhere absolutely helps,” he said.
Now that state aid shares have been reset, the cycle begins again, with 10 years before the cake is cut after the 2030 census.