Week of Apr. 30, 2003
2002 Audit to be presented Monday
By Stephanie Summerlin
Anderson School District One students are either testing or getting ready to be tested, in what is the beginning of standardized test season in South Carolina schools, according to Dr. Wayne Fowler, assistant superintendent.
At its April meeting, Fowler told the District One Board of Trustees that high school sophomores were already taking field tests for the new High School Assessment Test. The testing, which will set standards for next years 10th graders, replaces the BSAP test system used in the past.
PACT testing is also set for May 5-16 this year taking place over two weeks instead of one for students in grades 3-12.
Just to give you an idea of the magnitude of the testing were now doing, Ive had 30,000 individual student test booklets that Ive distributed to our field test coordinators that they are using to test students or plan to use to test students, Fowler says. All of the tests Ive mentioned are state-required tests.
Fowler also noted the success of recent grant applications in the district.
You know weve been talking about the budget, the lack of money and things like that, he says. And I know its going to be a difficult year financially. But our teachers never cease to amaze me the way they work with Dr. John Pruitt to acquire grants. They have submitted for consideration $325,000 worth of grants to the state.
Fowler says 157 district teachers participated in grant applications.
Our people are rising to the occasion trying to secure additional money, and every penny of this goes directly into the classroom where its needed, he says.
On the budget front, Superintendent Dr. Reggie Christopher updated the board, saying the state Senate Finance Committee had announced a preliminary expenditure of $1,904 per student. The amount marked an increase from the House version of the budget, which appropriated $1,644 per student.
Christopher noted that the Senate Finance Committee arrived at the figure by removing a $300 cap off new vehicle car taxes making the cap $2,500 on automobiles costing $50,000 or more. Plans are for the proposal to be discussed by the full Senate this week.
Its probably going to be compromised between the House and Senate, and I predict that it will be somewhere in the $1,780 category per student, he says. Thats still not near what we need, but if thats what it is, thats what well try to work with.
In terms of this years budget to date, Director of Finance Steve Uldrick reported expenditures of $41,974,479 (70.8 percent of budget) and revenues of $43,811,717 (83 percent of budget).
The districts student nutrition program also stands in the black with a profit of $40,827 in March and $187,967 year to date.
Christopher also reported the progress of the Wren High building addition. The freshman academy facility has faced some delays with the weather, but Christopher says construction is still on schedule.
The following personnel resignations were also accepted by the board: Julie Esser, Powdersville Elementary, academic; Monica Finley, West Pelzer Elementary, special education; Phillip Hewlett, Wren Middle, Spanish; Carla Parker, Wren Middle, seventh grade language arts; and Sarah Shelton, Wren Middle, seventh grade math.
Williamston Town Council is expected to be presented with the final results of the 2002 audit on the towns finances during their regular monthly meeting Monday, May 5.
The original audit presentation was to be made at the April 7 meeting of Council, but was postponed due to an account that had been left out of the auditing process, according to Mayor Phillip Clardy.
Clardy stated that the account was a drug fines and forfeitures account for the Williamston Police Department which neither he nor the towns treasurer knew about.
According to Clardy, the bank statements for the account were to be reviewed to see how it might affect the finances of the town.
During a work session held March 31, accountant Larry Finney, of the auditing firm Greene, Finney and Horton, LLP., told town officials that the town had a $402,760 deficit for the fiscal year ending Dec. 31, 2002.
During the work session, Finney said the town spent $377,815 more than was budgeted for 2002. $304,000 of that amount was for capital outlays which included $115,000 for fire vehicles refinanced and $189,485 for a lease purchase of police vehicles resulting in the town ending the year $73,300 in the red.
According to the auditors, for accounting purposes, the deficit includes loans, debt carried over and any additional expenses. The police and fire vehicle purchase agreements made in 2002 are included in the fiqures even though the cash is not actually paid out during 2002. They are factors in the deficit in terms of fund balance, according to the auditors.
Finney also said the town did not budget for the debt service so the amounts had to taken out of the general fund balance.
Clardy said that excluding the fire and police vehicle purchases, he expects the audit to show that the town is approximately $81,000 over budget when the final draft is presented.
According to Clardy, payments on the two items were budgeted for 2002 and are included in the budget for 2003.
To cover expenditures during 2002, the town borrowed $150,000 on a tax anticipation note last October. The rest was covered by a fund balance transfer of $179,000, leaving a $73,300 cash shortage according to information presented during the March work session.
According to the accountants, the Town was $240,000 over budget for 2002.
Councilman Wade Pepper said he thought a big part of the deficit appeared to be the result of additional staff that had been hired and administrative expenditures which ran over the 2002 budget approved by Council.
Clardy said that the budget is a work in progress with adjustments periodically being made and has stated that it may take another year or two to get the line item amounts in the budget fine tuned.
During the work session, Finney said he had two concerns with the 2003 budget: cutting costs and addressing problems with the towns financial software system.
A revised 2003 budget is expected to be presented to Council at the meeting Monday.
A work session will be held at 5:30 p.m., followed by the regular meeting at 6 p.m. Both meetings are open to the public.
Organizers of a petition drive to have voters decide if they want to change the form of govenment in Williamston said they need only about 100 more signatures of registered voters to reach their goal of 500.
The effort is the first step to change the towns strong mayor, weak council form of government to a council form of government.
Williamston resident John Suber, who is helping organize the drive, said he thinks the mayor has too much power under the current system. Under the proposed change, he said, the council will have just as much say as the mayor.
Suber said any registered voter in the town can sign the petitions, which are available for signing at Scoops Restaurant, Foothills Pawn Shop and Williamston Curb Market. Citizens interested in signing the petition can also contact Suber at 847-7048 and he will bring the petition to the persons residence.
Once the 500 names are obtained on the petitions, copies will be made and the originals will be turned in to the town clerk to be forwarded to the registration board, Suber said.
Suber said he was told that once the petitions are turned in to the registration board, they will be certified in about a week to 10 days and then the matter will be presented to town council.
Williamston Town Council members Greg Cole, Cecil Cothran and Wade Pepper have indicated that they support changing the form of government for the town.
Mayor Phillip Clardy said he doesnt think giving the council additional administrative power is in the best interest of the town.
There are 160 municipalities in the state of South Carolina that have the mayor-council form of government, Clardy said.
According to the South Carolina Code of Laws, changing the form of government in any municipality requires one of two actions: an Election Commission-certified petition to that effect signed by 15 percent of the towns registered voters; or the municipal governing body calling for such an election by ordinance.
If either is the case, the municipal governing body would then conduct a special election not later than 90 days nor earlier than 30 days after the receipt of the petition or the passage of the ordinance.
Williamston is currently governed under the mayor-council form of government.
The Council form of government, which organizers of the petition drive are pushing for, designates legislative and administrative powers of the municipality are to be vested in the town council. Each member of council, including the mayor, has one vote.
A political newcomer and three candidates with experience on the town council are running for the two seats available on the West Pelzer Town Council in the election to be held June 3.
Political newcomer Terry Davis was shocked and disappointed after attending council meetings for about a year and decided to get involved since he believed that citizens were not being well represented. He feels that the people need a voice as well as answers to questions. Candidates that are voted into office are accountable to the people, Davis said.
Davis says that he would like to restore honesty and integrity to town government. He also emphasizes that he would like for the people to be proud of West Pelzer once again.
He also has special concern for senior citizens who cannot afford outrageous water bills of $50 and $60 and hopes to cut costs and reduce spending. I want to see water rates brought down to a reasonable range, Davis commented.
Other issues of concern to Davis are the speeding of big trucks down Highway 8, enforcement of animal control laws, and solutions to water pressure problems.
Retired on disability, Davis lives on Spring Street with his wife Faye and his children, Andy and April. He is a member of the Carolina Heights Church of God of Prophecy in Greenville.
Maida Kelly has served four years on the town council and is seeking re-election. Kelly has enjoyed working for the people and appreciated the support of the town in the past.
Kelly believes that dividing the town into wards would achieve better representation. She also feels that the town should consider annexation as well as explore more grant opportunities.
Kelly feels the town should cut any expenses or excess if possible in order not to raise taxes since she feels that the senior citizens could not afford a tax increase. She would also like to see senior citizens checked on periodically.
Kelly lives on Dendy Street and has been a resident of West Pelzer for 38 years. She has a business degree and currently works as a nanny for a special needs child.
She attends West Pelzer Baptist Church and is also a member of the Eastern Star.
Linda Lozano loves the community and believes that the town has a lot of potential. She feels that residents need a safe place to live as well as maintain the small town atmosphere.
Serving on the council from 1994-98, she worked with Clemson students on a comprehensive plan and a zoning ordinance for the town. Lozano feels that the town needs a functioning Planning Commission, Zoning Board, and Beautification Committee. She also feels that the town should work on solutions to the water and sewer problems.
Lozano graduated from Palmetto High School and lives on Welborn Street. She has three children and three grandchildren and is employed with CVS in West Pelzer.
She is a member of Pelzer First Baptist Church, Hejaz Country Girls, Eastern Star, and the Get Together Club. She has also volunteered with United Way and the Road Study Committee.
Johnny Rogers served on council four years ago and is seeking to serve again. During his previous term, he was involved in updating ordinances, a loan/grant for the sewer project, and comprehensive planning.
Rogers primary goal is to be as fair as I can representing the good for the citizens of West Pelzer. He seeks citizen involvement and welcomes any concerns citizens may have.
Rogers said he would like to see the town go forward and to work on some kind of program for the elderly and shut-ins.
Rogers has worked with 3M for 23 years. A member of New Hope Baptist Church and the Masonic Lodge, he and his wife Judy live on Holliday Street and have three children. He is a former member of the Rescue Squad and the Fire Department.
Candidates Joe Turner and Peggy Paxton, running for mayor of West Pelzer, will be featured in a later story in The Journal.
West Pelzer voters are invited to Meet the Candidates May 15 at 6 p.m. at West Pelzer Fire Department.
Candidates for mayor and town council will be present and will respond to questions from citizens. Refreshments will be served.
The Board of Commissioners of the Piedmont Public Service District discussed vandalism, sewer problems, and a proposed budget in its regular meeting Monday.
Chief Administrator Butch Nichols reported repeated problems with vandalism at the park which led to a discussion as to how the problem should be handled.
Chief of Anderson County Park Police Bill Striewing addressed the board discussing procedures for handling the problem throughout the county. Striewing emphasized that parents or guardians are responsible for the actions of anyone 15 years of age or younger.
Striewing also discussed good procedures for the use of video cameras, documenting problems, and prosecuting offenders. He added that the park police and Anderson County sheriffs deputies could assist in patrolling the park.
Gloria Garner, a resident of 104 Dill Drive, addressed the board about a continuing sewage problem. Garner stated that the manhole on her property overflows with raw sewage and destroys her yard.
Nichols explained that the board had done everything they knew to do to solve the problem other than replacing the entire line which he estimated would cost approximately $200,000. According to Nichols, special funding such as a grant would have to be obtained in order to replace the lines. Nichols suggested that Garner consider raising the manhole as a possible solution to the problem.
Nichols presented a document from the boards attorney David Wilson regarding a consent agreement/compliance statement indicating that the board was making a concerted effort to comply with EPA regulations. The board voted unanimously to endorse the statement after a motion by Commissioner Al McAbee.
The third reading of a personnel policy to pay double time to employees who work Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Day received unanimous approval.
Nichols reported that the smoke machine for the sewer had arrived and that the district had received a grant through FEMA to receive $5000 worth of equipment and air packs.
Chairperson Marsha Rogers reviewed the proposed budget for next fiscal year. Commissioner Fred Glenn questioned a reduction in Anderson County revenue. Nichols responded that this was due to the elimination of revenue from Piggly Wiggly.
The board voted to go into executive session to discuss employee compensation for the coming year. Upon reconvening, Commissioner J. C. Turner made a motion to give employees a 5% pay raise. The board supported the motion unanimously.
McAbee made a motion to increase expense money for commissioners to $100 per month. All members except Glenn supported the motion.
Turner made a motion to accept the first reading of the budget for the next fiscal year and received unanimous approval from the board.
The board scheduled the next meeting for May 19 and adjourned.
Organizers are finalizing plans for a Freedom March scheduled May 10 at 1 p.m. in Williamston. The purpose of the march is to show support and appreciation for current and former soldiers.
Participants in the march are asked to meet at noon at the American Legion Ball Field behind the Williamston Municipal Center. Motorcycle riders are also encouraged to participate in the event. The march will proceed down Main Street, through the Mineral Spring Park and end at the National Guard Armory. Veterans or those wishing to represent a veteran are asked to meet at the flag pole at the Municipal Center where seating will be available.
Anyone who is unable to march but would like to participate is asked to come sit in the park and offer support. Entertainment and special activities will also take place in the park.
Organizer Debbie Jenkinson emphasizes that the march is not a political statement but is designed to be a peaceful event to honor our soldiers. They need our support just as we need them to defend our country, Jenkinson said.
Jenkinson has a son Nathan Phillips who is serving in Kuwait. He and his buddies were so excited when they heard about the plans for the march and are looking forward to seeing pictures of the event, Jenkinson said.
The march offers everyone an opportunity to show their appreciation to those who have sacrificed for our freedom, Jenkinson added.