Oconee Medical Center leaders expressed confidence last night that they go into a new fiscal year with a sound budget, though it reflects the continuing realities of health care’s changing landscape. Approved by the board of directors was a budget projecting spending at nearly $138 million and revenues of $140 million. The budget raises hospital charges by 5%, but vice president for operations Hunter Kome says the increase applies mainly to insurers contracted to cover OMC patients. The hospital’s loss for August approximated $500 thousand, and the hospital finishes 2012-13 next week with not only smaller numbers of in-patients, but smaller numbers of out-patients, as well. Still its financial officer, Kevin Herbert, says he’s certain OMC will be able to meet all of its obligations the next 12 months, including all scheduled payments for outstanding debt. A budget breakdown shows projected spending of $24 million for supplies for caring for patients, $60.5 million in salary expenses—more than $13 million of that for employee health insurance and other benefits. For those employees who qualify, a three percent merit pay raise is projected for June 2014. This past year OMC awarded across-the-board pay raises. Some new services are provided for in the new budget, including the first-ever for South Carolina in-hospital dental clinic. The lack of dental care for the uninsured ranks among the top health needs in the community, according to a study commissioned by OMC.