News Archive

Week of Nov. 5

Williamston soccer fields back on the drawing board
Town receives recreation funding from delegation
Williamston officials to consider budget options
Veterans Day programs planned
Reassessment, millage boost to increase local tax bills
Pelzer election not final

Williamston soccer fields back on drawing board

After being on hold for three years, a proposed soccer complex in the Town of Williamston is again at the top of the list.

Officials are considering property located in the center of town as an alternative site for the proposed soccer complex.

The project, which includes two regulation soccer fields, was originally to be located on property owned by the Town near the waste water treatment plant just off Mill St.

Work on the project stopped soon after clearing and grading began in August of 2000. Engineers determined that rock on the property would be a serious problem and that it would not be cost effective to continue.

Three years later, the dream of a soccer complex in Williamston has been revived with the announcement this week of State and County funding totaling $40,000.

The announcement was made by members of the Anderson County Legislative Delegation with a “big check” presentation during the Williamston Town Council meeting Monday.

Anderson County Council Representative Cindy Wilson announced a $25,000 appropriation from Anderson County Council.

Sen. Billy  O’Dell  announced that he has secured an additional $10,000 for parks and recreation use and House Representative Michael Thompson announced that he has secured an additional $5,000 to be used for parks and recreation purposes.

Williamston Mayor Phillip Clardy said the funding will provide the seed money the town needs to move forward with soccer fields.

According to Mayor Clardy, the town is considering property located along Big Creek just off Main Street behind the depot for the two soccer fields.

The proposed complex will be a joint project of the Palmetto Soccer Club, the Town of Williamston and Anderson County.

According to Williamston Parks and Recreation Director Dale Martin, the area will need minor grading and may have to have some dirt hauled in.

“The site has been talked about as an alternate site,” Martin said during a recent meeting.

The project is to be located “In the Heart of Williamston,” in an area already dedicated to recreation or parks, according to Clardy, and is near Mineral Spring Park and other ball fields located off Minor Street.

Clardy said the Palmetto Soccer Club has not officially asked the town to support the project but there have been recent discussions with club officials.

He said he expects the club to present Council with an official letter of request soon.

Club spokesperson Ken Scales, who was involved in the planning stages of the initial soccer project, said the soccer club primarily needs fields.

“We just need flat places to play ball,” he said.

He said two regulation fields, which could be striped to accomodate four or more smaller fields, would be sufficient for the growing club.

Initial club goals were for the city to operate and maintain the fields with the soccer club providing an organized soccer program within the town, according to Scales.

He said the original plans included having the county assist in funding and construction of the fields.

County officials agreed in 1999 to work with the town on the joint soccer facility project, committing to do initial site designs and preliminary engineering for the facility.

When presenting the proposal to Williamston officials in 1999, Scales said the club needed 7 to 7.5 acres for up to four fields.

At the time, the growing soccer club had about 80 kids, ages 5 to 14, participating.

Now the organization has 270 children participating on teams being fielded in various age groups.

The group started out practicing on ball fields located behind the municipal center, then moved practices to the New Hope Sports Complex.

Town officials looked at both the Big Creek site and the Mill St. site  when discussions began on the project in 1999, deciding on the Mill Street property.

Town receives recreation funding from delegation

The Town of Williamston received notice during their regular monthly meeting Monday that it will receive parks and recreation funding totalling $40,000.

Members of the Anderson County Legislative Delegation announced the funding.

Anderson County Council Representative Cindy Wilson announced a $25,000 appropriation to The Town of Williamston from Anderson County Council to help with proposed soccer fields in the town.

Sen. Billy  O’Dell  announced that he has secured an additional $10,000 for parks and recreation use for the town, and House Representative Michael Thompson announced that he has secured an additional $5,000 to be used for parks and recreation purposes.

Following the presentation, resident Denise Johnson told Council residents would like to see the Brookdale Park restored. She also asked about the possibility of a traffic light at the intersection of Roberts Blvd. and Greenville Dr.

Mayor Phillip Clardy responded that the town has applied for a PARD grant to help with restoration of the park. He also said that portable restrooms will be placed at the park.

Other improvements are planned including replacement of lights and possibly converting tennis courts into basketball courts.

Clardy reminded Council of a Veterans Day program scheduled for 10 a.m.  Nov. 11.

The service will include a Palmetto High School ROTC march from the school to the veterans memorial on Minor St.

Any area veteran who would like to participate in the march should meet at the school at 9:45 a.m. Clardy said.

The program will include unveiling the name of Sgt. James W. Blackmon which was added to those on the Vietnam Memorial plaque.

Council then voted to go into executive session to discuss a contractural matter.

Upon returning to public session, Council voted 5-0 to approve a proposed contract with Utility Service Co. to provide visual inspection and a full service maintenance program for the town’s Virginia Drive water tank.

The four year contract includes interior and exterior renovation during the first year; visual inspection and report the second year; washout inspection and report the third year and a visual inspection and report the fourth year. Emergency service is included thoughout the period. Cost of the program is $39,798 per year for three years and $10,683 the fourth year.

Council also agreed 5-0 to allow the mayor to enter into the contract on behalf of the town.

Mayor Clardy said he will present two draft budgets for Council to consider in a budget worksession to be held at 4 p.m. on November 20.

The first draft budget will reflect figures including the current assessment and the second draft budget will contain figures with a rollback millage, according to Clardy.

Clardy said the Town has not rolled back taxes in the past, opting to keep the windfall created by reassessment.

Clardy said he has asked County Council to open another window of appeal on assessment, which could change the totals again.

Council also approved a request by Clardy to allow town staff to close Town Hall at noon on Dec. 24 and to take Friday Dec. 26 off.

Council also approved a request by Clardy to offer vehicles and equipment owned by the town for auction.

The vehicles include a 1978 Ford truck, a 1978 Chevrolet work truck, a bush hot stick mower, three high mileage police vehicles and a 1989 Pontiac which was seized in a drug bust. The vehicles will be advertised for bids, Clardy said.

Williamston officials to consider budget options

Williamston Mayor Phillip Clardy said he will present two budgets for council members to consider when they meet for a budget work session at 4 p.m. Nov. 20.

Clardy said he will present a budget including figures reflecting the “windfall” created from reassessment in the county this year and a second budget reflecting a rollback of the reassessment windfall.

The difference for the town is roughly $148,000 according to preliminary figures, Clardy said.

“We will give consideration to a possible rollback to the appropriate value of a mill before reassessment,” Clardy said.

Municipalities and other taxing districts, including Anderson County and the school districts, have the option of applying their current millage rates to the assessed property values, which in many cases increased with the reassessment done this year.

This creates a windfall unless the taxing entities rollback their millage rate to the point that taxes remain at the level they were before the reassessment.

According to Clardy, town officials have in the past kept the windfall created  by reassessment which is mandated by the state every five years.

Because the town operates on a calendar year, town officials are currently in the budget process for 2004.

Clardy said when the town set the 2003 budget, they had no way of knowing what the appraised property values would be.

He also said the town would take into account declining revenues from vehicle taxes that are in the process of being phased out by the state.

“We will look into the difference between the two and compare to the prior asessment,” Clardy said.

Anderson County Council held a special meeting earlier this year voting to keep the windfall created from increased assessment values throughout the county.

Taxpayers had the opportunity to appeal the reassessment in July, but most did not realize the actual dollar amount would increase as much as it did until they received their tax bills recently.

Clardy said he recently asked District 7 County Council member Cindy Wilson to request an extended appeals deadline which County Council approved at their meeting Tuesday night. (See seperate story)

Taxpayers in the county have complained to county officials that the reassessment figures on their properties are in many cases unreasonable.

Veterans Day programs planned

 Several Veterans Day programs are scheduled throughout the area to recognize and honor veterans of all military service.

The Town of Williamston will hold a Veterans Day program scheduled for 10 a.m.  Nov. 11.

The service will include a Palmetto High School ROTC march under the direction of Lt. Colonel Mike Creamer. The march will proceed from the school down Hamilton Street to Main Street, then to Minor St. and on to the veterans memorial located at the ball fields.

Any area veteran who would like to participate in the march should meet at the Palmeeto High School at 9:45 a.m. organizers said.

The program will include unveiling the name of Sgt. James W. Blackmon which was added to those on the Vietnam Memorial plaque.

M/Sgt. Blackmon was killed in action in Vietnam on August 1, 1970 while performing a heroic mission according to his obituary.

Blackmon volunteered to attempt to rescue a Vietnamese boy, about 15 years old, who had fallen into a mine field.

He was the son of Mrs. Ellen Blackmon Tucker and was born in Williamston. He attended Caroline High School and was a member of the New Prospect Baptist Church.

He was a recipient of the Silver Star and the Purple Heart.

Other programs scheduled in the area include a Veterans Recognition Program at 2 p.m. Nov. 9 at the Piedmont Community building.

Veterans families are invited to attend and veterans are asked to bring along any memorabilia that might interest others for display.

For more information, contact Evelyn Roper at 845-7260.

Shiloh Methodist Church in Piedmont will have its annual Veterans Day service Sunday Nov. 9 at 11 a.m. The theme of the service will be “Let the Voice of Freedom ring.”

All veterans and members of the community are invited. For informatin contact Nancy Upton or LTC (Ret.) Mike Upton at 299-3022.

Other churches in the area are expected to hold special services honoring veterans.

The Richard M. Campbell Veterans Nursing Home will hold their annual Veterans Day Celebration from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 11.

The program will include a presentation of memorial flag by Rep. Gresham Barrett, presentation of the Order of the Palmetto by Sen. billy O’Dell and other comments. Col. Kenneth Stokes, Inspector General, Shaw AFB will be the guest speaker.

The program will be held in the dining hall of the Richard M. Campbell Veterans Nursing Home at 4605 Belton Highway, Anderson.

For more informatin call (864) 261-6734.

There will be a Veterans Day ceremony at 10 a.m. Nov. 11 at the Veterans Monument at Greenville County Square in Greenville.

The ceremony will conclude with a F-16 flyover and a 21 gun salute.

A Veterans Day Celebration will be held Nov. 8 at 10 a.m. at the Anderson County Veterans Monument.

The program will include a salute to veterans and placing of a wreath. American Legion Posts 14, 44, 50, 51, 113, 121 and 184 are to be recognized along with others.

Also included will be a salute to POW/MIAs. Keynote speaker will be Colonel Gibbs, Department Deputy Commander of the S. C. National Guard. The public is encouraged to bring a lawn chair and participate in the program which will be held rain or shine.

Reassessment, millage boost to increase local tax bills

By Stephanie Summerlin

Owning a $100,000 house within the boundaries of Anderson County School District One will cost you an extra $14 on your tax bill, thanks to a recent millage increase.

According to District One Superintendent Dr. Reggie Christopher, what began as a 4.5 mil increase his board requested this summer rose to 7 mils after crossing the county auditor’s desk.

“The auditor was operating on different information than what we had,” Christopher says. “The Bosch Corporation’s assessment was down $2 million. The auditor also had a letter from the state saying we had only collected 88 percent of our taxes in this district. So she assigned 7 mils.”

In essence, Christopher says, the lower assessment from Bosch, coupled with the local tax shortfall, forced the auditor to make up the difference to aid the district’s fund balance.

“State law says the auditor must put on the millage to fund the budget,” he says. “On a $100,000 house, it would be a $14 increase. People are hollering that their taxes went up. But they went up because of reassessment.”

Tacking on the extra millage can only be approved after holding a public meeting announcing an increase, Christopher says. “Our county board did that,” he says. “They followed the law and had the public meeting. Only a handful of people showed up. It was advertised in the paper what was going on, but people don’t pay that any attention until they get their tax bill.”

Every five years, state law requires that real property be reassessed to market value. “When that happens, all personal property taxes go up, especially in our area because we’re growing,” Christopher says.

Taxes will go up 22 to 33 percent this year on residential property due to reassessment. Christopher says the millage increase beyond that reassessment was paramount in a time when deeper cuts are being made to school district budgets.

“We’ve lost over $3 million from the state in the last couple of years, and it has put us in a tough time,” he says. “The legislators come riding in on their white horse – (Gov. David) Beasley did it with tax relief. When they took away the car tax, they knew it was going over to the residential side because we had to have the money. They pass all these laws reducing taxes knowing that they’re going to make the school boards the bad guys.”

The superintendent says he and his board are simply trying to do their jobs.

“The school boards have an obligation to educate the children in the community,” he says. “And we have an obligation as taxpayers to do that. People say we need to cut back when times are lean. We have cut way back. But the legislature could have cut back. They spent $49 million on the Education Accountability Act on testing. They could have said they were going to forego the testing this year – saving $40 million and putting it into basic services.”

Even with the millage increase, Christopher says it will not prevent the district from possibly having to borrow money. He asked the board at last Tuesday’s meeting to authorize the use of TAN (tax anticipation notes) up to $800,000 for the purpose of meeting the district’s financial obligations, such as meeting payroll. He says he foresees only needing the loan for two to three weeks, with 1.5 percent interest paid only for the time the money is used. That would amount to about $16 a day for every $400,000 borrowed.

“We have payroll and a big insurance check due to the state for our employees in November,” Christopher says. “We’re in the toughest time of the year. When the state did the property tax relief, they had to give us the money back we would have made if no relief had been made. But even in hardship, we can’t get that money until the first week of December. If we could get that money early, we wouldn’t have to borrow anything.”

Under TAN, school systems can acquire loans at low interest rates and legal costs, and can pay those short-term loans back without penalty. Districts which are members of the TAN program but do not need loans incur no out-of-pocket costs.

The superintendent says that until changes are made in Columbia, his district and many others throughout South Carolina will continue to struggle financially.

“If we ever get a General Assembly where education is truly number one, then we’ll see some positive movements,” he says. “Right now they just pay lip service to it. Right now they are more interested in getting reelected than in education. I firmly believe we have to provide the resources for an educated populous.”

Pelzer election not final

Results in the Pelzer municipal election were not yet final Wednesday morning according to election officials.

Unofficial results show that Kenneth Davis received 19 votes while incumbent Page Henderson received 18 votes for the office of mayor.

Davis currently operates his own lawn maintenance business. Henderson is retired and has served as mayor of the town for eight years.

Of the 37 ballots cast in the election for mayor and town council, a “couple of ballots are being contested” according to Election Commission Chairman Duncan Adams. Questions involve town boundaries and whether some voters were actually registered within the Town of Pelzer according to Adams.

Confusion also resulted in how to handle a number of write-in votes according to officials. Four council seats were open, but there were only three official candidates with an option for a single write-in candidate. Some voters chose to vote for more than one write-in candidate.

Tony Riddle along with incumbents Steve McGregor and Betty Edens were candidates for three of the four council seats available.






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