City of Sumter presents 1st draft of budget with possible COVID-19 impacts looming


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During Sumter City Council's Tuesday meeting, a draft budget estimate of the City of Sumter's fiscal year 2021 was presented with $1.7 million left to balance out before the beginning of the new fiscal year.

The estimated budget revenues for fiscal 2021, which begins July 1, are at about $69 million with expenditures currently at $71 million, according to the draft budget documents.

City Manager Deron McCormick said having more expected expenditures than revenue is a normal occurrence at this point in the budget drafting process, and the city will now work to balance the draft budget and get total spending to equal total earnings.

Last year at this time, he said, the city had about $2.8 million to balance.

According to the draft budget, every fund is already balanced and broken down into the TIF fund, Water and Sewer, Mayesville Water System, Stormwater, Accommodations, Hospitality and Victims' Assistance departments, except for the general fund. The general fund is currently unbalanced with the $1.7 million deficit, which includes general government, public safety, public works, parks and gardens, culture and recreation, community and economic development, debt service and appropriations to other agencies.

A budget gets balanced by a variety of measures, potentially including moving funding and programs around, increasing certain fees or not funding services or program in departments. Increasing taxes is an option. The city has not done so for the past 11 years.

Council will continue its efforts in balancing the budget by June, when a public hearing will be conducted so the public can address their wishes or concerns. Council will give two readings of an ordinance of a balanced budget, according to McCormick.

However, McCormick said COVID-19 could affect the budget's process.

The state's fiscal 2021 budget was affected after legislators agreed to provide more funding from its $1.8 billion surplus to fight the virus, causing both the House and Senate to eventually revise their budget drafts, but McCormick said the virus won't affect the City of Sumter in a drastic way.

"It will affect us but in a different way than the state," McCormick said. "What it's going to affect mainly is the current year budget. We fully expect there to be a budget amendment for the end of our fiscal year."

McCormick said at about the same time the city is in the process of passing the new budget, it'll also be contemplating any changes to the existing budget because of the impacts of COVID-19. This doesn't worry the City of Sumter in the slightest, though, as it has dealt with these types of situations in the past during natural disasters.

"We're making as many adjustments as we can right now in the current year, but there are some things we don't have much choice about," McCormick said. "We're keeping tabs on everything right now."