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Clinton approves budget reading, hears concerns of missing funds

Clinton, S.C. – In a special called meeting Monday night, Clinton City Council held a public hearing for its 2022/23 fiscal year budget of $31,598,373.
It’s a decrease of 4.09% from last year’s budget of $30,305,165, yet includes an increased tax millage rate of 119.10 compared to last year’s 113.78 millage rate.
“This is due to the current inflation,” said Finance Director Dana Waters. “It does include a 3% cost of living increase for employees.”
During the public hearing Monday evening, two citizens expressed concern that the budget was not online on the City of Clinton’s website.
Council approved second reading of the budget, and then tabled a discussion regarding the D.E. Tribble Building and the adjacent buildings. Prior to selling the buildings several years ago, the city spent funds stabilizing the buildings and council hopes to speak to the owner who wants to sell all but one of the properties.
During the council and mayor comment period, Mayor Bob McLean discussed his concern that the city’s electric rate stabilization fund was about $4 million lower than it should be and he wanted to pursue having a forensic audit of the issue.
McLean said when former city manager Bill Ed Cannon was still in Clinton about four years ago, council was presented with a financial statement, and McLean told council Monday that at the time he was concerned that the electric rate stabilization fund had only $2.4 million and it should have been close to $5 million.
McLean said that Cannon initially said his calculations were correct, then told McLean later that funds had been shifted to other areas to cover shortfalls and he “would replace the funds shortly.”
“Fast forward four years to today,” McLean said.
He learned this spring that Piedmont Municipal Power Agency had returned a total of more than $7 million back to the City of Clinton over McLean’s time on the PMPA board, and that those funds would be needed in late 2029 to 2035 when the supplemental power agreement ends.
“Currently, we only have $3.2 of the $7.2 million we are supposed to have,” McLean said.
City Manager Tom Brooks said he would include the discussion on the agenda for the next Clinton City Council meeting.

First published page 3 of the June 15, 2022 issue of Laurens County Advertiser.

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