Sumter County Council discusses rats, funding and opioids

BY ADRIENNE SARVIS
adrienne@theitem.com
Posted 3/1/18

Ahead of its 2018-19 budget process, Sumter County Council continued its discussion regarding the allocation of the local government fund which members are already guessing will be less than what is needed.

Members of the state Ways and Means …

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Sumter County Council discusses rats, funding and opioids

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Ahead of its 2018-19 budget process, Sumter County Council continued its discussion regarding the allocation of the local government fund which members are already guessing will be less than what is needed.

Members of the state Ways and Means Committee think the county receives sufficient funding, but council needs to show that is not true, councilman Gene Baten said.

The original funding formula, developed decades ago, stated that 4.5 percent of the state's general revenue funds would be split among the 46 counties in South Carolina.

A funding plan created by the South Carolina Association of Counties states that a base amount of funding shall be appropriated to each county and that amount will increase - by up to 5 percent of the base amount - as the state's general revenue fund increases.

The state House Ways and Means Committee does not use either formula to provide the appropriate amount of money, Baten said.

Sumter County needs to send an itemized list of the state-mandated agencies the municipality is required to fund, he said.

Sumter County Administrator Gary Mixon said part of the problem is that there is no consistency between the counties and General Assembly about what is considered a state-mandated agency.

The General Assembly will have to determine what is state mandated so Sumter County can show what it costs to operate each agency, he said.

Mixon said county staff have also looked into adding a section on Sumter's tax receipts that will account for the lack of local government funding - a method practiced by Florence County - at the recent suggestion of councilman Baten. County council has discussed the idea of adding that section to the tax receipt during previous budget workshops.

Staff will present that option to council during this year's budget process, Mixon said.

County to consider filing opioid lawsuit

There is a movement in the state for all of the counties to file lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies for their alleged role in the rise of opioid abuse in the state, Mixon said.

Sumter County has been approached by two law firms, he said, and a third may also come forward.

The county will consult with local law enforcement and medical service providers to determine the damage of opioid abuse and present that information to council before any decisions are made, he said.

Neighborhood sets rat traps

Residents of the Silver Street area approached county council with concerns about a rat infestation possibly stemming from an industrial property - owned by CBT Enterprises LLC, according to a Sumter County property search - located behind their neighborhood.

Council chairman Jim McCain said he visited the property - used for plastic recycling - last week with the director of codes enforcement and other officials and saw large piles of trash that he said would be the perfect hiding places for rodents.

A building on the property was actually being demolished, without a permit, during the visit, he said.

McCain said upsetting that building could have also disturbed the rats.

And some of the houses with backyards facing the facility were also covered in trash, McCain said. The neighbors also need to do their part, he said.

The council chairman said the issue will involve county and city efforts because the factory is in the county and the neighborhood is in the city.

Councilwoman Vivian Fleming-McGhaney suggested that Department of Health and Environmental Services also be contacted, especially if residents have children.