MONCKS CORNER — People who live in lower Berkeley County may be able to take care of routine county business in Goose Creek again within the next few months, if some Berkeley County councilmen get their way.
“I can guarantee you that this county is going to grow exponentially ... so therefore at some point, there’s going need to be a satellite office,” said Councilman Tim Callanan. “And denying that, I think, is foolhardy.”
Callanan and Councilmen Ken Gunn and Dennis Fish have said it is their goal to reopen the office during the next fiscal year, which starts July 1. Doing so is estimated to cost $160,000 for equipment and employees.
The office at 303 N. Goose Creek Blvd. was opened in 2006 to offer services for the auditor and the treasurer. The permitting office also was there briefly.
The county estimated it saved $56,500 by closing it in August 2011.
“The implication ... was to some that we didn’t want to provide services,” said Supervisor Dan Davis. “When we closed the office we were entering a recession. We were looking for every place that we could save dollars. That still hasn’t changed much.”
Callanan said the savings to residents outweighs the cost of running the office. If 30,000 people avoid the 28-mile trip to Moncks Corner, it would save taxpayers about $462,000, he said.
“Government is about providing services in a way that so that they are convenient to the populace and that’s what opening this center is,” he said.
In its last year, nearly 41,000 transactions were completed between the auditor’s and treasurer’s offices, but Auditor Janet Brown Jurosko said about half the customers still had to drive to Moncks Corner to complete their business.
“I wanted it to work when it first opened,” she said. “It’s just that it didn’t. All these people were getting upset because they were having to come (to Moncks Corner) anyway.”
“The concept on which it was founded didn’t work at the very beginning,” he said. “There were a lot of problems with it, and most of them had to do with people not being able to complete their transactions in Goose Creek.”
Councilmen Caldwell Pinckney and Jack Schurlknight also expressed concerns.
Schurlknight said it makes more sense to encourage residents to pay their bills online if they don’t want to make the trip to Moncks Corner. Nearly a third of residents currently pay their taxes online, which includes a 2.4 percent convenience fee, Jurosko said.
Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or facebook.com/brindge.