The Local Government Fund has been an important and stable source of local government revenue for almost 20 years. Since Fiscal Year 2010, the LGF has seen substantial reductions due to a shrinking state general fund and additional reductions imposed by the General Assembly.
In recent years, members of the General Assembly have been considering changes to the LGF and evaluating how the Local Government Fund is calculated for distribution to cities and counties.
Last fall, the Speaker of the House appointed an ad committee chaired by Rep. Leon Stavranakis to review the revenue needs of municipalities and counties, and modify the current funding methodology of the LGF.
During its two meetings in late 2017, committee members heard testimony from Melissa Carter with the Municipal Association, other local government interests and Frank Rainwater, the state’s chief economist, to gather input about local government revenue and expenditure trends.
Last week, state budget hearings began with a Ways and Means subcommittee taking testimony about county and municipal requests for funding.
In the 2017 session, Rep. Russell Ott introduced H3099 that changes the formula to reflect the projected growth in the general fund.
Assuring the future of the LGF as a stable and reliable revenue source is one of the Municipal Association’s Advocacy Initiatives for 2018. At Hometown Legislative Action Day on February 6, hear from a panel of House members who will discuss proposals being considered to update the LGF formula.
Read From the Dome to your Home every Friday to keep up with the debate surrounding changes in the LGF. Learn more about the history of the LGF.
The new executive director of
the Municipal Association of South Carolina is Wayne George, a
former mayor, city councilmember and state legislator. The Association
represents the state's 271 cities and towns, providing training, advocacy at
the state and federal levels, and programs that give local officials the tools
they need to provide quality services.
There's something unique about
serving in local government, says George. Working to improve quality of life at
the city and town level is just different because you can quickly see the
George was mayor of Mullins
for 16 years after serving on city council from 1980 to 1988. "Generally,
you can see light at the end of the tunnel. At the state level, sometimes you
can't see things progressing as you'd like it to."
But, of course, it's not easy making decisions that affect the lives of your
next-door neighbors and the people you see at church, the grocery store and
your children's school.
Local governments, George said, "are sometimes not completely understood
by the general public. But we are the government that's closest to the
George succeeds Miriam Hair who retired in December after 32 years with the
Association, the last nine as executive director.
"Wayne's background in
local government, experience at the State House, organizational experience as a
successful business owner, and years of involvement with the Municipal
Association on staff and on the board made him the ideal candidate for
executive director," said Cayce Mayor Elise Partin, who chairs the Association's board. "His dedication to the strength of
local government, which increases the strength of our state, will continue the
positive difference the Association makes."
Before joining the Association,
George had a career in insurance after founding his own company. He also worked
in the Municipal Association's Risk Management Services division and as a field
service representative for the Association from 2004 to 2010. Later, George
represented parts of Dillon, Horry and Marion counties in the S.C. House of
Representatives for two terms after his election in 2012.
George is particularly attuned to the challenges that rural cities and towns in
South Carolina face. In 2004, then-Gov. Mark Sanford named him Rural Innovator
of the Year for his idea to locate the Florence-Darlington Technical College satellite campus to
downtown Mullins, his downtown revitalization efforts, and his support for the
preservation of historic properties.
George attended Coastal
Carolina University on a basketball scholarship and earned bachelor's
degrees from Coastal Carolina and from Morris College. He founded The George Agency, raised three
sons with his wife, Helen, and served on the Coastal Carolina University Board
of Trustees from 2006 – 2012.
George says he's particularly looking forward to getting reacquainted with the
many municipal officials he has known for years and meeting the new ones. He'll be busy. The November
elections brought substantial changes in city halls across the state.
Together, in the Appalachian,
Catawba, Central Midlands and Upper Savannah councils
of governments, 54 cities had general elections, council seats had a turnover
rate of 41 percent and mayoral seats had a turnover rate of 43 percent — 29
percent of councilmembers did not seek re-election, while 25 percent of mayors
did not run again.
In the Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester,
Lowcountry, Lower Savannah, Waccamaw, Santee Lynches and Pee Dee councils of
government, 86 cities and towns had general elections, resulting in a turnover
rate of 31 percent for council seats and 33 percent for mayoral seats — 18
percent of councilmembers and 25 percent of mayors did not seek re-election.
But getting to know the hundreds of new and veteran public officials alike — from
city halls to the S.C. State House — and across other statewide organizations
is likely to be a pleasure for George, who says he has always worked well with
residents from diverse groups. He recalled the best advice he's ever received
about working with others, words from his parents.
"Always be fair."