Newberry Ups Eco Devo Spending Despite Cuts

February 24, 2011

Investigative Reports

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The NerveKim Murphy
Citizen Reporter

 

Despite cutting its overall budget by more than 3 percent, Newberry County increased funding for economic development for Fiscal Year 2009-10 compared to the previous year.

The largely rural county of approximately 38,000 residents allotted $142,115 for economic development in FY 2009-10, up from $141,275 in FY 2008-09, according to county financial information.

That increase comes even though Newberry County cut its overall budget from $22,351,009 to $21,591,132, or about 3.4 percent, during the same period.

That’s not to say there wasn’t room for cuts to be made – especially in hard times. Significant county expenditures during FY 2008-09 included:

  • $28,000 for travel expenses for the seven county council members; and
  • $19,146 in membership costs to be a part of the Central Midlands Regional Planning Council.

But while the budget did cut travel expenses for county council members by a total of about $4,000 this year, it again allocated another $19,146 for membership in the Central Midlands Regional Planning Council.

In addition, while the county was significantly increasing its economic development efforts, it cut back sharply on some core areas of government service, such public works, which was reduced by nearly $600,000.

The Newberry County Council features a mix of experienced members and newcomers. Bill Waldrop and John E. Caldwell have both served for more than 20 consecutive years, and Buddy Livingstone is into his second decade on the council, while Steven Stockman, Les Hip and Kirksey Koon were all elected in 2008.

Altogether, the Newberry County Council has 64 years experience among its seven members, an average of just over nine years apiece.

According to Newberry County’s Web site, Livingston is involved in education, Stockman is a businessman who sells ag products and is involved in the mortgage industry, Hipp is a manager at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station, Koon is a businessman who owns and operates a fitness center, Baker is the owner of a construction company and Caldwell and Waldrop are retired.

All seven members are natives of Newberry County.

Of the seven, only Baker attended college out of state, at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta.

According to the 2000 census, the median income for a household in Newberry County was $32,867, and the median income for a family was $40,580.

Newberry County’s unemployment rate as of the end of 2009 was 12.2 percent.