News Archive

Week of July 7, 2004

Clardy asks council to allow borrowing $565,000
Budget problems, deficits continue under Clardy
A look at Williamston’s latest borrowing request
United Methodist volunteers provide home improvements
Williamston officers make arrests
District One terminates accused teacher, coach
West Pelzer officials plan rate, fee increases
Piedmont Commissioners revise consulting agreement

BONUS STORY - Credit card statement reflects meals on the town

 

Clardy asks council to allow borrowing $565,000

In a special called meeting held Monday, June 28, Williamston Town Council approved the renewal of an insurance policy which was set to expire July 1 and went behind closed doors to discuss borrowing $565,000.

The town has considered changing insurance carriers recently due to increases in the policy premium but decided to keep the insurance currently being provided through the Municipal Association of South Carolina.

Council unanimously approved renewing the current contract with a 5-0 vote.

At the request of Mayor Phillip Clardy, Town Council then went into executive session to discuss a bond ordinance which would allow the town to borrow $565,000.

Citing legal discussions, Clardy asked for a motion to go into executive (secret) session with bond attorney Brad Love of Haynesworth, Sinkler and Boyd of Greenville and town financial consultant Boyd Greene.

 All discussions between councilmembers on the borrowing were held during the executive session which lasted for approximately two hours.

There was very little public discussion other than an announcement by 

Clardy that the town was considering a bond ordinance that would allow the borrowing.

Upon returning to regular session, Clardy said no action was taken during the executive session, though council did have “a very good discussion in executive session.”

Clardy said town officials will look at the auditors recommendations concerning fund balances and other budget issues.

He also said he is beginning preliminary work on the budget for next year and wants the town to consider changing the fiscal year.

“We will continue to look at the options that are in the best interest of the citizens of Williamston,” Clardy said.

Citing the rising insurance costs as one of the financial problems facing the town, Clardy said the town can either “recoup  or cut expenditures.”

According to Clardy, this could be done by increasing franchise fees, raising property taxes or possibly by adding a solid waste collection fee.

Clardy said the town was looking at renegotiating a current bond for an extended time period. Council voted 5-0 to accept the presentation as information.

Four citizens who signed up were not allowed to speak during the meeting, even though a signup sheet was posted, as usual, at the entrance to Council Chambers.

The draft bond ordinance states that the town is looking at borrowing $565,000 over a six year period. According to the ordinance, the bond issue will be through BB&T at an interest rate not to exceed 6%.

Following the meeting, council members Cecil Cothran and Greg Cole both said they would rather look at possible cuts in the town’s municipal expenditures or consider borrowing less money than the mayor is asking for.

They both said this was the general consensus of the council from the discussions held during the executive session.

“We will see what we can cut. Maybe borrow some money, but less,” Cole said.

There are several things the town can do to cut expenditures according to Cole.

The draft ordinance states the remaining police vehicle lease is $45,298.82 and the outstanding balance of the GO bond is $68,000.

The ordinance states that the additional $446,000 will be used for operating expenditures to get the town through the rest of the year.

Clardy said he was advised by Accounting Consultant Boyd Greene to borrow money, implement a tax increase or decrease expenditures.

Clardy’s explanation for the borrowing is to use the funds to put the town in financial shape for the next operating year.

“To deal with the fact  that the town utilizes taxes for next year for operating for the current year,” he said.

According to Clardy, the town has been using the incoming tax monies which begin coming in after the October  tax billing, to finish out the current year.

The practice has been used by town officials at numerous times in the past, Clardy said.

Information provided by Clardy showed the town has borrowed money or authorized the mayor to borrow money in most years from 1979 to 1994.

The Town has continued the practice under Clardy’s administration, borrowing money in each of the last three years.

Clardy said the borrowing is at the advice of Greene, which the town has hired to help with town  finances.

“He said what we need to do is to draw the line and stop the practice,” Clardy said. “The town is beginning every year with a debt.”

“The borrowing will stop the practice and begin the upcoming year with the tax money intended for it,” Clardy said.

“The GO bond would pay off current debt and the new debt will be used for operating expenses for the current year,”Clardy said.

Clardy said the additional borrowing will “put the town on a good financial foothold for the next year.”

Clardy said borrowing the needed money over six years will also help the town’s decreasing fund balance.

“Deficits decrease the fund balance,” Clardy said.

Clardy said the roof repairs and the 2002 police vehicle lease, which were approved under his administration,  were a big part of the deficits the town has had over the past four years.

Longterm borrowing over five years does not count against the fund balance, according to Clardy.

By borrowing the money over six years, Clardy said the town’s fund balance will look better.

“We want to not just get by,” he said.

“Somewhere we can come up with the money, possibly cut $300,000 or find another source of revenue,” the mayor said.

He said the town will also establish a debt service account instead of paying for what is borrowed out of the general fund.

The town’s current deficit is being blamed primarily on increasing insurance costs.

Clardy said the town will either be forced to cut expenditures or find an alternative source of income.

“A tax increase is the last resort that we would want,” Clardy said.

Clardy said the town will also look at passing the insurance costs on to town employees. “The town will look at every avenue. The town is struggling.” Clardy said.

Clardy said the town is also growing.

“This is not the same town it was four years ago, or ten years ago. The town has grown, and continues to grow. Somehow the needs have to be paid for,” Clardy said.

Clardy said the $150,000 TAN note, which was borrowed in 2001 and extended in 2002, has been paid off.

The TAN note was borrowed from BB&T to get the town through the final months of 2001 prior to the tax revenues for 2002 coming in. The note was extended in 2002 for the same reason.

Clardy said the estimated $80,000-$112,000 “windfall” that the town should have collected on the 2003 tax notice has not materialized.

He said the amount of tax money collected so far is about the same as the year before. Clardy said the appeals process which the County extended, is the reason the additional tax money was not collected.

Budget problems, deficits continue under Clardy

The Town of Williamston had a $402,760 deficit for the fiscal year ending Dec. 31, 2002, according to representatives of the auditing firm Greene, Finney and Horton, LLP. The 2002 budget was the town’s first budget presented by and administered under Mayor Clardy.

Clardy said he presented the 2002 budget for Council as a “tell-all budget” designed to place revenues and expenditures in the appropriate categories and to see exactly what it costs to operate each of the town’s departments.

The town actually spent $377,815 more than was budgeted for 2002. $304,000 of that amount was for capital outlays, according to Larry Finney.

At that time, Finney and Mayor Phillip Clardy both stated that the size of the 2002 deficit was partially the result of changes in the town’s financial practices and deficits that accumulated over a number of years.

 Two items made up most of the capital outlay amount, $115,000  for fire vehicles refinanced and $189,485 for a lease purchase of police vehicles resulting in the town being $73,300 in the red.

The police vehicle lease included purchasing six new vehicles with a down payment and  the balance paid by lump sum payments of $47,371 each year over a three year period.

The lease program was suggested as a way for the town to get six new vehicles instead of the two replacement vehicles  budgeted annually for the department in the past.

To cover expenditures during 2002, the town borrowed $150,000 on a tax anticipation note in October of 2001. The rest was covered by a fund balance transfer of $179,000, leaving a  $73,300 cash shortage according to information presented at the time.

According to information provided to The Journal by the town, Williamston was over budget for 2002 by approximately $320,845 for general fund expenses.

Actual total revenues for the year amounted to $2,356,226 while actual total expenditures amounted to $2,526,894, resulting in a cash flow deficit of $170,668.

The 2002 budget also showed a wide variance of revenues and expenses (both budgeted and actual) reflected at the end of 2002.

Clardy said the variances were the result of attempting to assign revenues and expenses to appropriate accounts.

The original 2002 budget presented by Clardy and approved by Council in Dec. of 2001, showed expected income of $2,258,436.

A revised budget presented in May showed income budgeted at $2,222,436. 

The Town of Williamston hired consultant Boyd Greene to assist the treasurer with various fund transfers and other adjustments prior to the audit.

Greene was familiar with the accounts and adjustments made when his firm took over the auditing process in 2001 and he was involved with the transition in accounting systems during the change in administration, Clardy said at the time.

Clardy said his revised 2003 budget, which he said was based on the results of the 2002 “tell-all budget” and the 2002 audit would be considerably more accurate.

Reporting on the 2003 audit in April 2004, Finney described the financial condition of the town as “weak” and emphasized a “growing concern with the Town’s decreasing fund balance over the last three years.”

The 2004 audit report showed that a $74,618 deficiency in 2001 resulted in a fund balance of $1,239,800. Deficiencies amounting to $398,995 in 2002 resulted in a fund balance of $889,699. The audit for 2003 showed a deficiency of $148,733 which resulted in a fund balance of $740,966.

In response to its financial difficulties, the Town significantly cut costs in 2003 but still ended the year with a deficiency.

Town expenditures for 2003 were down $523,000 - 18% less than for the year 2002.

The 2003 budget compared to actual expenditures showed a variance of $288,202. Finney attributed this to a $167,000 increase in public safety, a $64,000 increase in public works, a $69,000 increase in insurance premiums and an $18,000 decrease in estimated state revenues.

The 2004 budget includes a $2.29 million general fund budget and a $1.475 million enterprise fund budget. Clardy said the 2004 budget is based on actual figures from 2003.

“We had an entire year on the system,” Clardy said referring to new accounting software system the town is using.

Clardy has blamed the old software program and problems associated with changing to a new program for inaccurate financial information the town has received since he took office in 2001.

Clardy said financial information is now based on a correct chart of accounts which matches line items on the budget.

Clardy said that in the past he attempted to provide a “simple budget” which he said “broke items out too far.”

“The actual budget is what is our chart of accounts,” he told Council earlier this year. “It provides greater accountability in departments.”

The 2004 General Fund budget shows anticipated expenditures of $2,292,202 to income of $2,292,202, an overall increase of $149,762 over 2003.

Salaries amounted to the largest portion of the general fund budget, accounting for  $1,206,000, up from $1,112,617.50 in 2003.

Administrative salaries amounted to $244,000, up from $181,840.

Street department expenses include salaries of $235,000, up from $207,688;

Police department expenses include: salaries $630,000, up from $552,992.

The Parks and Recreation budget includes salaries of $73,000, up from $65,626.

Information supplied by Clardy shows The Town of Williamston had budget deficits for each of the years 1992-2002.

Variances ranged from a low of $123,106 in the red in 1992 to a high of $948,559 in the red in 1998.

A look at Williamston’s latest borrowing request

By David C. Meade

Williamston Mayor Phillip Clardy is again asking Town Council to allow the town to borrow more money.

In a special called meeting June 28, Clardy went behind closed doors with town council to discuss borrowing $565,000 to put the town on a “strong financial foothold.”

According to Clardy, this will stop a practice of borrowing money  (tax anticipation notes) to get through the year until the next year’s tax money begins coming in.

Though the practice is not uncommon for municipalities or even school districts, it is only a temporary fix and does not address the problem of why the town is coming up short on operating capital early in the year.

In his first four years as Williamston’s mayor, Clardy has established a pattern of spending and borrowing.

According to the 2004 audit, the town showed a deficiency of  $74,618 at the end of 2001, Clardy’s first year as mayor. In 2002, deficiencies amounted to $398,995. The 2003 audit showed a deficiency of $148,733.

Clardy’s borrowing also continued during his second year and third year in office.

A $150,000 tax anticipation note (TAN note) was issued in October 2001 to get through Clardy’s first year and cover expenses into 2002. An extension on the TAN note was made in late 2002, making the payment due in 2003. Clardy said the note has been paid off.

Only midway through 2004, Clardy is asking Williamston Town Council to consider allowing him to borrow to pay off the remaining police vehicle lease payment and the balance of the 2001 GO bond payment. Both final payments are coming due and apparently the town hasn’t got the money available for the payments or the day to day operations for the rest of the year.

The new borrowing will also provide the town with operating capital from July through December, according to Clardy.

In justifying the borrowing, Clardy said the most recent borrowing request will help alleviate the decreasing fund balance the town has experienced for the last four years.

By borrowing for six years, the loan is considered long term debt, which does not count against the fund balance, according to Clardy.

The police vehicle lease and the GO bond borrowing, both considered short term financing, were two factors in the decreasing fund balance the town has experienced since he has taken office.

By borrowing an additional $300,000, Clardy said the town will be able to  start January 2005 without a deficit.

This will end an ongoing practice of borrowing money at the end of the year to finish out the year until tax collections begin, he said.

How the town will pay back the borrowed $565,000 has not been decided.

Clardy said the town has three options to deal with the defict spending that is going on under his administration.

The town can borrow money, increase taxes or decrease expenditures.

When asked about the options, the mayor said town officials will look at every possible option, including employees.

Clardy has already suggested asking employees to pay more of the increasing insurance costs.

Clardy didn’t say the town would consider a cut in employees, instead he justified the additional employees the town has hired under his administration as necessary because of the growth the town has seen.

Clardy pointed out additional apartment complexes that have been built in the town in recent years as examples of growth.

We have to be able to provide the necessary services, Clardy said.

Clardy’s borrowing and spending practices, and his definition of  “open government,” have been called into question by citizens and others during his four years as mayor.

The town has borrowed or extended loans in each of the three years Clardy has been in office. The latest request being the largest.

One of his first actions as mayor was to issue a $250,000 general obligation (GO) bond which was used to replace a roof and windows at the municipal building.

Though the roof and windows were the bulk of the expenses for the project, the actual costs of the project have not been made public.

A freedom of information request for the invoices and checks paid or receipts for the work and additional work or supplies paid out of the GO bond money has gone unanswered for almost a year.

In August 2003, The Journal submitted an official FOI request for paid invoices and receipts associated with the project.

A 2nd request was made in February of this year, along with an additional FOI request.

The Town replied with a certified letter stating that the GO bond FOI request would take considerable time and effort. It stated the request would be answered along with the additional request.

To date, The Journal has not received the requested information.

Other citizens have also told The Journal that their FOI requests have contained incomplete information or not been answered at all.

Clardy campaigned on open government and continually said his administration was based on open government, but often the actions of Williamston’s government are contrary to this.

Rather than discuss the recent borrowing request in public, the mayor and council chose to discuss the reasons for the borrowing in a closed session.

All four of Williamston’s Councilmembers should be commended for not approving the requested borrowing and forcing the town’s administrator, the mayor, to look at other options.

Rather than raising taxes, or fees, The Town should look at the real reasons for the ongoing deficits, excessive hiring and associated costs (such as insurance) and excessive spending.

In other words, not sticking to the budget.

The citizens of Williamston will be better served when our government officials admit there is a problem, address it in public, and move on.

United Methodist volunteers provide home improvements

A narrow dirt road leads to the 80-year-old house where Johnny Smith was born and has lived all of his life. Surrounded by a grove of trees, the home is barely visible from Cherokee Road in Williamston, and the home and its resident could easily be overlooked by passersby.

Viewing the home from a distance, a casual observer would believe the home to be in fairly good repair. A closer look would reveal the many repairs needed for the structure to make it more livable for its 61-year-old owner.

Last summer, the roof was so badly deteriorated that there was even a small tree growing through it at the back of the house. The floor of a back room had literally fallen through and little but the walls of the room were able to be salvaged.

With no running water or indoor plumbing available, Smith was accustomed to making regular trips to an outhouse and to a neighbor’s house to fill a cooler with water containers for his use.

With no insulation or storm windows, the house provided little protection from the winter cold. Smith spent the majority of the winter in the one room he kept heated.

A former worker at Mt. Vernon Mills and a former maintenance worker at Saluda Valley Country Club, Smith survived on income from disability and dealt with his situation as best he could.

Volunteers with Meals on Wheels who came to know Smith felt that he could use some special assistance and recommended that Salkehatchie Summer Service review his circumstances and consider helping out.

Piedmont Salkehatchie accepted the challenge and after a week of work for two summers, volunteers with the mission effort of the United Methodist Church have literally transformed Smith’s home.

Forty-year-old John Richardson appropriately known to volunteers as “Big John” operated as site manager at the Smith home and is passionate about the mission effort. “I plan to stay involved for 40 more years,” Richardson says.

With expert leadership from Richardson, Salkehatchie volunteers jacked up the floor in the back room and created a usable room on the back of the house in the summer of 2003. Volunteers also added attic insulation and storm windows to make the house more comfortable.

A team of volunteers also re-roofed the house, and Bethesda United Methodist Church funded the cost of installing a water line. A kitchen sink was added so that Smith could have running water.

As dramatic as the improvements were in 2003, the Piedmont Salkehatchie crew still felt there were things to be done after the week of work was over.

“Big John” accompanied by eight youth volunteers and five adult volunteers came back this summer to finish the job.

A donor from the Williamston area dug and laid a septic tank, and the once-dilapidated back room was transformed into a full bathroom with the assistance of local plumber Wayne Johnson and fixtures that were donated.

Assisted by Anderson County officials who waived permit fees due to the nature of the circumstances, experienced electrician Gene Kuhn from Summerville installed 600 feet of new wiring for the structure and replaced bare light bulbs and pull strings with fixtures with overhead fans.

A microwave and cabinets which were donated from a volunteer were installed in the kitchen.

Salkehatchie youth volunteers installed insulation in the walls and cleaned and painted the bead board walls in two of the rooms.

Anxious to put his new bathroom into use, Smith asked one of the volunteers at the end-of-the-week celebration, “Can I take a shower now?”

The amazing transformation of the Smith house took only two weeks of work by willing youth and adult professional volunteers and a myriad of materials and services donated for the project.

As an additional way to fund the mission effort, Salkehatchie volunteers pay a $180 registration fee for the week which is used to purchase supplies and assist in the cost of the camp. Local churches, businesses, and schools provide accommodations and feed the volunteers three meals a day for the week at an estimated cost of $6,000, according to coordinator Jo Hood.

School District One personnel including trustees, teachers, and retirees volunteer their time and facilities to the project.

District One trustee Nancy Upton provided the music for the devotional time for the 65-member group each day, and Palmetto High’s Mourning Pace volunteered and photographed the work in progress on each of the five home sites in the area.

As amazing as the work on the five local projects was this summer, similar efforts take place in 36 camps across the state every summer.

After finalizing financial reports on the local camp, Hood who is a teacher at Wren High School starts preparations for the 2005 camp beginning with a planning meeting in Columbia in September.

The idea for the first Salkehatchie camp began 26 years ago in the mind of minister John Culp who saw a need to help others.

Culp chose the name Salkehatchie, an Indian word which literally means salt catcher, because the Salkehatchie River runs through the middle of Hampton County dividing the rich and the poor.

The local group sponsored by Shiloh United Methodist Church in Piedmont met every morning for a devotional time before leaving to work on the five home sites in the area.

The homes located in Williamston, Pelzer, Piedmont, and Easley were selected earlier this year by referrals from local churches and community groups.

For more information and pictures on the Piedmont Salkehatchie 2004 camp, visit the website at shilohmethodist.com

Williamston officers make arrests

Williamston police officers investigated the following incidents in June:

June 25 - Wanda Christine Sorrow, 50, 22 Morris Dr., Honea Path, was arrested for driving left of center and suspended vehicle tag after a 1983 Toyota was observed on Gossett St. J. L. Barnes investigated.

June 28 - Roger Davenport, 12 W. Main St., Williamston reported three flower pots belonging to the town of Williamston pushed off the Hwy. 20 bridge causing $150 in damage. C. Sanders investigated.

June 29 - Glenn Allen Holliday, 37, 4425 Hwy. 25 South, Greenwood, was arrested for outstanding warrants in Greenwood County after a 1984 Dodge was observed on Main St. with a  headlight not working. J. L. Barnes investigated.

June 30 - Connie Marlene Hamby, 34, 203 Mauldin St., Williamston, reported items removed from her home including a Magnavox color TV valued at $205, 3 open pill bottles, and $45 in cash. There was also $75 in damage to a door. T. A. Striss investigated.

June 27 - Angela Annette Evatt, 38, 110 Gossett Drive, 

Apt. A-3, Williamston, was arrested for simple possession of marijuana after being observed walking on Jehue St. Reports state officers observed a plastic baggie containing a substance believed to be marijuana being thrown to the ground. T. A. Striss, Constable J. Griffen investigated.

June 18 - Two flower pots located at the intersection of Anderson Drive and Belton Dr. were struck by a white Mazda pickup causing $20 in damage. Sgt. K. P. Evatt investigated.

June 30 - Freya N. Epps, 30, 6 Adger St., Pelzer, was arrested for possession of stolen goods and failure to register a motor vehicle after a 1987 Nissan was observed on Greenville Dr. Officers recovered a stolen tag vaued at $45. K. P. Evatt investigated.

June 21 - Johnny Edmond Black, 59, 516 Cooley Bridge Rd., Belton, was arrested for driving under the influence and open container of alchohol (broken seal)  in vehicle after a 1991 Cadillac was observed on Greenville Dr. and Pelzer Avenue. J. L. Barnes, S. Stoller investigated.

June 27 - Arlar Carthel Crout, 60, 104 Shorebrook Dr., Williamston, reported a leaf blower valued at $105 taken from his garage. S. Stoller investigated.

June 19 - Robert Wayne Pitts, 44, 104 Slawson Dr., Williamston, was arrested for driving under suspension after a 1985 GMC truck was observed on Hwy. 20 and Minor St. J. N Griffin, J. L. Barnes investigated.

June 24 - Bruce T. Scroggs, 15, 4 Wardlaw St., Pelzer reported a Gravity Games bike valued at $200 taken from in front of Ace Hardware, 29 Pelzer Ave., Williamston S. Stoller investigated.

Robert D. Waits, 14, 1 Smyth St. Pelzer, reported a Black Haro 540 Air Signature series bike valued at $400 taken from in front of Ace Hardware. S. Stoller investigated .

June 10 - Charges against Sherman Bernard Greenlee in connection with the death of Cory Johnson were amended from assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature to involuntary manslaughter. Johnson died May 1 after being involved in an altercation with Greenlee. Captain David Baker of the Williamston Police Department said the charges were amended after talking with the victim’s family and the solicitor.

District One terminates accused teacher, coach

Anderson School District One trustees terminated Jay Bradley McJunkin at their board meeting last week. McJunkin is accused of sexually assaulting two boys in Anderson County and Pickens County.

Superintendent Dr. Reggie Christopher recommended the action in a letter written to the board and dated June 24. The board voted unanimously to support Christopher’s recommendation after a motion by David Merritt, Jr. and a second by Steve Garrison.

Board Chairman Fred Alexander declined to comment on the decision after the meeting saying it was a personnel matter but did say that the board was “following state statutes.”

A mathematics teacher and cross country coach at Palmetto High School, McJunkin was charged June 18 with two counts of second degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor and two counts of committing or attempting to commit a lewd act upon a minor. The incidents allegedly occurred at a storage facility in Anderson County between April 19 and May 21 of this year with a 15-year-old male.

The most recent charges are added to three charges of second degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor in Anderson County and two charges of second degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor in Pickens County. McJunkin also faces one charge of committing a lewd act with a minor in Pickens County.

Events connected with the original set of charges allegedly occurred between the summer of 2003 and March 2004 and were brought to the attention of Anderson County authorities on May 21, according to Capt. Dale McCard of the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office.

McJunkin has pleaded not guilty to all charges and has been released on bond. Court officials have placed him on electronic monitoring.

The case was investigated by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and will be prosecuted by the S. C. Attorney General’s office since McJunkin’s wife is an assistant solicitor in Anderson County.

Each criminal sexual conduct charge carries a sentence of up to 20 years imprisonment upon conviction. Conviction on each charge of a lewd act with a minor carries a sentence of up to 15 years imprisonment, McCard said

West Pelzer officials plan rate, fee increases

The West Pelzer Town Council unanimously approved the second reading of an ordinance establishing a new schedule of rates and fees for the town at a special meeting held June 28. Council members Terry Davis and Joe Turner were not present at the meeting.

According to the schedule, water rates for customers outside the town limits would increase from $17 to $25.50 for the first 1,000 gallons. Water rates for customers inside the town limits would change to a minimum fee of $12 for the first 1,000 gallons.

Sewer rates for customers outside the town limits would increase from $20 to $30 for the first 1,000 gallons. Sewer rates for customers inside the town limits would increase to $16 for the first 1,000 gallons.

Monthly DHEC fees for outside-residential would increase to $1.50, and outside-business fees would increase to $2. Residents inside the town would pay a $1 fee, and businesses inside the town would pay a fee of $1.50.

Due to a contract renegotiation, monthly garbage fees would be reduced from $6 to $3.50 for residents inside the town and from $9 to $6.50 for businesses inside the town.

The council also unanimously approved the second reading of an ordinance amending business and license fees. Businesses would pay a $50 minimum fee for gross sales up to $10,000. For every $1,000 of sales above that amount, businesses would pay a $1 fee – an increase of $.50 above current rates. Fees would be doubled for non-residents.

The council also voted unanimously to amend the ordinance to set a special lower rate for part-time businesses such as grass cutting and pressure washing.

The second reading of the proposed budget for fiscal year 2004-05 was also unanimously approved by the council.

The council also unanimously approved the second reading of an ordinance to change the regular scheduled council meetings from the second Tuesday of each month to the second Monday of each month due to a schedule conflict. The next regular meeting of the council is scheduled for July 12, Mayor Peggy Paxton said.

The council also unanimously approved an ordinance increasing the compensation for the mayor and council. The mayor’s compensation would increase from $1,000 to $2,400 annually. Compensation for council members would increase from $12 per month to $50 per month.

Paxton explained that according to established guidelines, the increases could not take effect for one year – the time of the next general election for the town.

Zoning Chairman Charles Ellenburg addressed the council about ordinances affecting mobile homes. Ellenburg explained that the current ordinance on mobile homes is “gray” about mobile home parks. He recommended that the council consider creating an ordinance designed specifically for mobile home parks and volunteered to compile an ordinance to present to the council for approval.

After discussion about inspections and the age limit of the mobile homes, the council voted unanimously to support Ellenburg’s recommendations.

Paxton reported that Gerber Mill had donated chairs and filing cabinets to be used in the new police department building. Initial costs of getting the building ready for use were estimated at $3,632 which included desks, chairs, file cabinets, computers, building materials, and cleaning, That cost would now be reduced due to the donations, Paxton said.

Police Sgt. Wilson also estimated the cost of using the bank building at the corner of Hindman St. and Main St. as a police station. Including rent, a business phone line, electricity, gas, and an Internet connection, Wilson estimated that the building would cost the town $573.50 per month.

Piedmont Commissioners revise consulting agreement

The Board of Commissioners for the Piedmont Public Service District unanimously revised the salary agreement with Rusty Burns after they held an executive session to discuss personnel matters at their meeting June 28.

Burns currently receives a monthly salary of $800 as a consultant to assist in finding grants and special funding for the district. Under the new agreement, Burns will receive a salary of $200 per month plus a 5% commission on all funding he procures for the district.

The board then unanimously approved the third and final reading of the annual budget for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2005.

The budget shows estimated revenues at $1,118, 494 for all departments with total estimated expenditures of $1,113,998 leaving an estimated surplus of $4,496.

Millage rates remain unchanged at .055 for the fire department, .024 for the sewer and light department, and .002 for the recreation department.

Chairperson Marsha Rogers reported that Chief Administrator Jerry L. Nichols receives an annual salary of $50,171 and 35 vacation days per year under the new budget.

Rogers reported that someone pried open the door to the concession stand at Thomas C. Pack Memorial Park and took a VHS cassette, a first aid kit, and miscellaneous candy and drinks valued at $122 on June 19. Nichols reported that stops would be added to the rollup doors as well as an alarm on the door to the concession stand.

Commissioner Al McAbee reported a total of 41 calls to the fire department in May which included: 3 structure fires, 6 grass fires, 4 vehicle accidents, 27 medical calls, 1 electrical call, 3 sewer calls, and 1 street light call.

Rogers reminded everyone that the filing for the election will be held August 2-16. She also announced that the board does not meet in July, and the board scheduled the next meeting for August 16.

Credit card statement reflects meals on the town

(From 2003 The Journal Online archives)

The Town of Williamston apparently footed the bill for approximately $5,800 in meals for the mayor, town staff, supervisors and others over a two year period according to information provided to The Journal under a Freedom of Information request.

A review of the town’s credit card statements for an account at First Citizens Bank reflects approximately $1,600 in charges for meals during 2001 and $4,200 for meals during 2002.

Most of the charges are to restaurants in Anderson or Greenville,  including  Capri’s, Carsons Steakhouse, Red Lobster and Ryan’s, statements show.

Other charges are for meals at local restaurants including Subway, Fiesta and Partners.

Handwritten notes on receipts provided with the account statements show that many of the meals were with town supervisors or other town employees including office staff and were related to town business in some way.

Some of the outings were for special occasions. For Secretary’s Day 2002, the town’s six office staff members were treated to a meal with the mayor, two at a time, at Trio Brick Oven in Greenville.

Other charges include food items or gift certificates for birthdays for town employees.

According to information provided on the statements, the town pays an average of $178 each month for meals for the mayor and staff or others he meets with.

Records show some of the charges were for meetings with County employees or following County meetings. Several receipts are for administrative or business related meals with no other details provided.

Among charges for the town are meals the mayor had with former Police Chief Richard Turner, Rep. Michael Thompson, victims advocate Holly Henderson, councilmen, and others.

 Meals were also provided for the election committee receipts show.

A Thanksgiving meal was also provided for town employees, records show.

The Town paid $1,540.70 for a Christmas dinner for supervisors and staff at the Peddler in Greenville in Dec. 2002.

The Town also held a separate Christmas dinner for other town employees which was not charged to the credit card.

Other charges on the Town’s credit card reflected purchases for decorations at the municipal center including $262.50 for a carpet for Council Chambers from the Statehouse Gift shop, various picture frames and other decorations and office supplies.

Charges shown on the statement also include overnight Municipal Association meetings held in Columbia or Charleston, attended annually by the mayor and councilmembers and other seminars.

The total credit card charges for 2001 amounted to $10,910.05, and $15,565.80 for 2002.

In comparison, the Town’s former mayor also enjoyed meals at Outback Steakhouse, Red Lobster, and the Cracker Barrel on a regular basis.

Credit Card statements from 1995-1998, also requested under FOI guidelines, show former Williamston mayor Marion Middleton averaged about four charges per month on the town’s credit card for restaurants, with each transaction averaging $43.99.

The statements also show numerous charges to restaurants in Charleston and Myrtle Beach. There were no receipts provided with any of the statements.

The mayor’s vehicle and related expenses including gas, are also provided by the Town.

There are no formal guidelines in effect restricting use of the town’s credit card or the mayor’s vehicle, official said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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