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Two months ago, this website filed an exclusive report revealing that our state’s eighty-five school districts were sitting on nearly $1 billion in cash reserves – an increase of $150 million from the previous year.

This unprecedented hoarding of resources comes as taxpayers are shelling out a record $11,754 per child on public “education” – a figure that doesn’t even include income from local bond revenue, investments, and transfers between funds and government agencies. Oh … and this mountain of new money comes on top of back-to-back years of record education funding (click here and here for those totals).

What are taxpayers getting in exchange for this massive investment?

You guessed it … diminishing returns.

Well guess what … our under-performing, incompetent school districts aren’t the only local governments hoarding cash.

South Carolina’s county governments are also sitting on hundreds of millions of tax dollars. In fact, a total of twenty-six counties were sitting on a total of $591 million as of June 2011. Information for the state’s other twenty counties was not immediately available, but the total figure could wind up approaching $1 billion.

Fund balances vary by county, with some of these local governments maintaining massive reserves that approach the size of their annual budgets and others holding onto much smaller amounts of cash. For example, Abbeville County’s $813,414 cash reserve is 9. 15 percent of its $8.9 million annual budget. Meanwhile York County’s $64.7 million balance is 88 percent of its annual $73.3 million budget.

The total amount is likely to be climbing, too.

In 2010, twenty-nine counties reported fund balances of $570 million.

As they do whenever we release data like this, government bureauucrats and their apologists will argue that maintaining healthy reserve balances is the “fiscally conservative” thing for these local governments to do. We agree – at least we would if we were talking about a small business or household budget.

We’re not. Like our worst-in-the-nation public school system, these county governments receive hundreds of millions of dollars in new money each year. Not only can they count on these revenue streams, but they can count on them increasing in perpetuity – even when the economy sours.

Anyway, to view the fund balances by county, click on the spreadsheet below …

2011 SC County Government Fund Balances