Week of Dec. 4, 2002
Williamston Town Council approved first reading on the 2003 budget along with an ordinance concerning insurance benefits of the mayor and council during a special called budget meeting held Nov. 22.
Mayor Phillip Clardy said the purpose of adding the insurance statement section to the budget ordinance is to have Council approve a continuing practice of providing insurance benefits for the Mayor and Council members.
There are no minutes on record from 1992 to present reflecting a public vote on salary or benefits for the Mayor and Council.
The former mayor and council members apparently approved salary increases and insurance benefits for themselves in secret without officially taking a public vote during an announced meeting.
This is clearly in violation of State of South Carolina Freedom of Information guidelines and state ordinances governing the conduct of public officials, according to a South Carolina Press Association spokesperson.
The ordinance presented Friday states that based on past practices of the Town, the mayor and council have been receiving, (and will continue to receive) at no cost to themselves, the same benefits as other Town employees receiving major medical coverage provided by the Town through the South Carolina Local Government Assurance Group.
The ordinance also states that the Mayor and Council acknowledge that past practices have been to cover the Mayor and Council members individually and not to provide coverage for any spouses or other family members except under the coverage, terms, and conditions that are available to regular Town employees.
The ordinance comes after information was recently released under a Freedom of Information request by The Journal.
According to the information released by the Town, former Mayor Marion Middleton, Councilmember Harold Mackey and Councilmember Wade Pepper all received employee and spousal coverage provided by the town, at least since 1996.
Clardy said councilmember spousal coverage provided by the Town had recently been discontinued.
Currently, 58 employees, including temporary, part-time, full-time employees and elected officials receive health benefits through the Town.
There are five elected officials, four appointed officials, three part-time and 46 full time employees working for the Town.
Standard insurance through the Town includes Life ($10,000), dental and health insurance, records show.
The Parks and Recreation Director, a part-time position, also receives employee and spousal coverage provided by the Town, records show.
The present clerk receives employee and family coverage, which according to Mayor Clardy, was a condition of employment when she was hired by the former mayor.
The former clerk also received family coverage provided by the Town in 1996. The coverage was changed to spousal coverage in 1997 records show.
A similar ordinance concerning salaries of the mayor and council was presented by Clardy for approval by Council during Clardys first year in office during 2001.
The ordinance was approved 4-0 at the Nov. 5, 2001 meeting,with Councilman David Harvell abstaining.
The mayors yearly salary was set at $24,000. Councilmen salaries were set at $7,200 annually.
Mayor Clardy said at that time, the salaries must be established by ordinance according to South Carolina Municipal Codes.
Under the municipal guidelines, Council must approve an ordinance and establish salaries by a public vote.
The guidelines also state that increases are not to take effect until after the term in which it was approved.
The approved salary amounts were already in effect prior to Clardy taking office in January of 2001.
According to Town records, the Mayors last salary increase was under former mayor Marion Middleton, when it was increased from $962.50 per month paid in 1999 to $2,000 per month paid beginning in February of 2000.
Council salaries apparently were increased from $100 in 1992 to $600 in 1993. The mayors salary at that time was $400 and increased to $600 in 1994.
Town records show discrepancies in councilmens salaries during 1993-1995 when councilman Harold Mackey received $8,000, councilman James Rogers received $7,200, councilman David Roberts received $1,200 and Councilman Wade Pepper received $2,300.
Pepper received $600 in January of 1993, but had his salary returned to the previous amount of $100 for the remainder of the year.
I thought it was in the best interest, Pepper said at the time.
He also said he thought Roberts didnt accept the entire salary amount during the period because it would interfere with his retirement benefits.
Pepper said he didnt know why there were discrepancies in the salary amounts of the other councilmen.
According to records, the mayors salary was increased from $400 to $600 in 1994 with the exception of December 1994 and January 1995 when the mayor received $900.
The mayors salary again increased in May 1995 to $962.50 monthly.
Councilmen Mackey and Rogers 1995 salaries included an extra $600 in January and $500 in December, for a total yearly salary of $8,300.
During 1995, Councilmen Roberts and Pepper received $100 per month and an additional $500 in December of 1995 for a total of $1,700 for the year.
During 1996 and 1997, each councilman received a salary of $600 per month.
Councilmen received a monthly salary of $600 for 1997 with the exception of February and December, when they received $1,100.
Council salaries paid in 1998 were $600 monthly for all four councilmen throughout the year until December, when councilmen received payments of $1,200 and $500. The mayors salary remained at $962.50.
Salaries during 1999 were $600 per month with an additional $500 payment made in December.
The mayors salary increased to $2,000 monthly in February of 2000.
In addition to a $600 salary, councilmen began receiving an additional payment of $200 each month beginning in January of 2000 with an additional payment of $500 in December.
No record of salary discussions appear in minutes from Town Council meetings during the period 1992 to 2000.
The mayors salary has remained at $2000 monthly since Clardy took office in January of 2001. Council salaries have remained at $600 monthly with no additional amounts being paid, according to Town records. Williamstons mayor is also the towns administrator.
In comparison, Beltons mayor is paid a salary of $12,970, with a part-time administrative assistant. Health insurance is paid for both the Council and mayor, but dependent coverage is paid by the individual. Anderson city pays its mayor $9,000 and councilmen $4,800 plus $2,400 travel. Health insurance is also paid for the individual only.
Williamston Town Council approved first reading on a $2.2 million general fund and a $1.36 million water and sewer enterprise fund budget for 2003 during a special called meeting held Nov. 22.
The 2003 General Fund budget presented by Williamston Mayor Phillip Clardy shows anticipated expenditures of $2,222,158.10 to income of $2,222,158.10, an overall decrease of $35,278 from 2002.
Salaries amounted to the largest portion of the general fund budget, accounting for $1,112,617.50, up from $1,042,135.99 in 2002.
Social Security amounts to $83,685.12, up from $78,859; police retirement dropped slightly to $57,827.66 and other town retirement $34,200.94, up from $30,886.
A three percent wage increase amounting to $31,233.69 is budgeted and will take effect Jan. 1, 2003.
Health insurance premiums amount to $159,669.15, up from $141,732 in 2002.
Firemens compensation is $20,000.
Utilities for all departments is $103,000, up from $70,000 in 2002.
The town budgeted $80,000 for supplies and expense, up from $56,000; $35,000 for repairs and maintenance (all departments) and $5,000 for Municipal Building repairs.
The budget includes $75,519.34 for vehicle/equipment payments, down from $121,450 and $51,000 for vehicle expenses and maintenance, down $2,000 from 2002.
Professional fees were decreased with a cut from $24,000 to $12,000 for attorney fees and from $6,000 to $5,000 for auditors.
Also budgeted are uniforms $18,500, up from $16,500; recreation/little league $14,000, down $1,000 and other expenditures of $45,800.
Also, planning and zoning materials and meeting, $500; municipal association dues, $1,800 and National Guard Armory, $810.
Also included are insurance bond payments of $23,000, down from $75,000, and general obligation bond annual payment of $69,244.70.
Expenditures paid to state are $162,355.10 and expenditures paid to victim advocate escrow, $20,394.90.
Total expenditures are budgeted at $2,222,158.10, a decrease of $35,278 from last year.
Income will come from expected property taxes of $624,715.60, down from $798,836.
State fund revenue is expected to be $100,000, other grants $10,000, motore vehicle taxes $143,000.
Payments in lieu of taxes are $66,000; homestead exemptions $90,047.60; merchants inventory tax $25,000; manufacturing exemptions $95,000; business license, $42,000, MASC insurance $148,000; franchise fees $308,000; MASC telecommunitcations, $7,000; police fines are expected to be $340,000. SRO high school and middle school officers (from School District 1) $35,500 and $35,500.
Little league fees are expected to bring in $3,000; park fees, $9,000; and Christmas/Spring Water festival, $9,000.
Dumpster/metal sold will bring $11,000; interest income, $3,000; water department loan payment $36,000; revenue of fines for victims escrow, $20,394.90; anticipated grants, $40,000; and Anderson County allocation, $10,000.
Expected revenues are $2,222,158.10
Not included in the 2003 budget are balances brought forward from 2002.
Anticipated revenue for the enterprise fund includes water and sewer billing of $1,317,694.36, tap fees, $40,000, reconnect fees $11,000 for a total of $1,368,694.36.
Expenditures for the water and sewer departments is also expected to be $1,368.694.36
Second reading on the budget will be held at 6 p.m at the Dec. 2 meeting of Williamston Town Council.
Piedmont Public Service District Board of Commissioners met for their final meeting of the year Nov. 25. The Board completed the year with plans for a Toys for Tots benefit at the Piedmont Community Center Nov. 30 at 8 p.m. in conjunction with Top Rope Wrestling. Admission per person is a new unwrapped toy valued at $5 or more. Toys will be distributed to needy families in the area by the Piedmont Fire Department.
Butch Nichols reported that he had a bid of $1500 on one of the fire trucks for sale. The Board advised him to sell at that price.
Chairperson Marsha Rogers stated that nine bids were submitted on the lawn maintenance contract. The contract was awarded to Cutting Edge, Inc. in Gray Court for a bid of $1145 per month. The contract runs from January 1, 2003 to June 30, 2006
Rogers also reported that the recreation program is gearing up for the basketball season. Plans for two grants totaling $7710 include improvements to the ball park. Ideas include redoing the island where the new sign is located, planting a ground cover on the left bank of the park, adding park benches, and revising the lettering on the sign.
Rogers provided a report from Rusty Burns stating that two grants for the fire department are still pending. Burns is also overseeing the $90,000 sewer grant.
Commissioner Ed Poore reported financial assets of $180,368 with liabilities totaling $8,681. Medical (first responder) calls July to date have cost the district $886. Poore emphasized that this cost is not reimbursed to the district.
Commissioner Fred Glenn reported spending $7451 since July on the sewer.
Administrative Assistant Sylvia Brown reported that the Greenville County storm water millage was around $1000 which was not accounted for in the budget.
The Board unanimously approved the second reading of a personnel retirement policy. The policy allows one days current pay for each year of full time service at retirement.
Brown questioned a reduction of $50,000 in receipts year-to-date versus last years receipts. Poore suggested calling the tax office for an explanation.
The Board voted to move into executive session to discuss nominees for the Cliff Brown Award. The award is presented each December by the Board of Commissioners for outstanding public service.
The next meeting is planned for January 20, 2003.
Local dairy farmer Tom Trantham was recently recognized with a national award for protecting the environment and benefiting his
community while still making a profit.
Trantham, with the help of a Clemson University Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) research project, was recently presented the Patrick Madden
Farmer of the Year award.
Trantham accepted the award at the SARE Programs national
conference in Raleigh, N.C.
The research was conducted by Jean Bertrand and Fred Pardue,
both of Clemson Universitys Animal, Dairy and Veterinary Science
As he accepted the $1,000 prize money, Trantham recalled how
he went from down and out to up and running.
Down and out was in 1988 when his cows were winning
production awards but losing money at every milking because feed
costs were gobbling up 65 percent of the gross income.
Up and running is his life today, making a good living on
a grazing dairy that hasnt seen chemical fertilizer in 15 years.
Bertrand and Pardues research examined the feasibility of a
year-round grazing dairy and helped refine a management intensive
grazing system that rescued the dairy from near-bankruptcy to
netting better than $40,000 per year with a 42 percent reduction
in input costs.
Results showed that during the three-year project, an
average of 74 cows grazed 689 days out of 945 days for a savings
of $15,805 (or 31 cents per cow per day) when compared to
Tranthams old confinement system.
Now the milkers consistently top a 20,600-pound average.
The herd currently averages 75 cows with about 10 percent dry at any time of the year, and Tranthams goal of $60,000 per year from 60
milkers is getting closer every season, especially now that he
has converted the Harvestor silo (an expensive reminder of his
conventional dairying days) into a three-story milk processing
plant called Happy Cow Creamery.
Rich people leave monuments, but my monument will be to know
that the dairy continues to be an asset to my community and my
family after Im gone, said Trantham.