Editor's Note: This is the second part of a two-part series on the upcoming national fiscal year.
Tuesday marks the start to the national fiscal year and brings with it local concerns. While the state fiscal year begins in July, federal funding and cuts could impact the local cities and county.
“We get $1.6 million from the Department of Energy that goes toward the county and the schools,” said Aiken County Administrator Clay Killian. “In addition, the Savannah River Site is a huge economic driver. So any more cuts from the Site would definitely have a trickle-down effect and impact the county.”
Todd Glover, city administrator for North Augusta, agreed.
“Federal funding does play a large role in the local economy with SRS and Fort Gordon,” he said, “Also, cuts in the local government funded by the state over the last few years have negatively affected our budget.”
The state fiscal year began with 500 layoffs from the MOX project at the Savannah River Site, followed by 465 layoffs from Savannah River Remediation, the Site's liquid waste contractor. The former is estimated to cut $42 million from the local payroll, according to a study done by the SRS Community Reuse Organization.
Despite that, the Economic Development Partnership is working to reverse that deficit and bring more jobs to the area.
“The goal of the Economic Development Partnership is to raise the per capita income, diversify the labor force and increase the tax base of Aiken and Edgefield County,” said Will Williams, director of the partnership. “Our area has always been well-positioned for new growth. We have a very strong infrastructure base that includes available water and sewer capacity, great utility providers and rail service to many of our industrial sites.”
Moving forward, Aiken is finishing up the construction of its first Sam's Club and also has various other projects in the works throughout the city. North Augusta is expecting the completion of a second Wal-mart and has high hopes for Project Jackson, which is a major economic development project proposed for North Augusta's waterfront.
“Competition for corporate capital projects within our local industry is extremely competitive,” said Williams. “That leads to job creation and more money spent in our community.”
Glover added, “As staff has prepared the Fiscal Year 2014 budget, very encouraging signs of an improving economy have begun to emerge. Our staff is very optimistic that 2014 could be one of the best years in recent memory.”
Derrek Asberry is a beat reporter with the Aiken Standard news team and joined the paper in June.