Tight finances may shelve Lexington County’s plans to improve emergency assistance response times and pave more dirt roads, officials said Tuesday.
That warning came after County Administrator Joe Mergo said minimal revenue growth is likely due to cuts in state aid and state limits on how high local taxes can be raised.
“We’re going to have to hold, try to maintain,” County Council chairman Todd Cullum of Cayce said. “I don’t know how we can improve.”
Council members in coming weeks will juggle proposals for more deputies, jail guards, firefighters and paramedics in settling on a spending plan for the year starting July 1.
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Deputies, firefighters, paramedics and 911 dispatchers now meet council goals for response about two-thirds of the time, according to a recent report.
Paving dirt roads has been put on hold as public works staff repair flood damage created by record rain Oct. 4.
Improving response times and paving roads are “our biggest challenge” in a steadily growing county home to an estimated 275,000 people, Mergo said.
“It’s getting tougher in a county blessed with growth,” he said. “With that growth comes increasing demands for services.”
Requests for extra public safety staff compose the bulk of $21.8 million in new spending requests, Mergo said. A breakdown will be posted online Wednesday.
It’s likely only about $1 million of those proposals will be included in the spending plan he is slated to recommend April 26 for council consideration.
The tax cap makes it difficult for the nine council members to raise taxes much.
Spending for county services now is nearly $122 million.
Tim Flach: 803-771-8483