Week of Dec. 10
left out of tax windfall process in Williamston
The Town of Williamston is looking into whether it is required to have public input in determining whether to keep a $112,000 windfall resulting from property reassessment in Anderson County this year.
Williamston Mayor Phillip Clardy said the town is looking into the legalities of the State concerning rollback millage but stated the towns position is that it has done nothing wrong by not having a public hearing or vote on the matter.
We are looking into what responsibilities municipalities are subject to concerning budget ordinances, Clardy said.
Clardy said that based on legal advice given by town attorney Richard Thompson and past records on how reassessment was handled, there has been no red flag concerning how the town has handled the windfall/rollback situation for 2003.
Rollback millage is defined as the millage rate needed to fund the prior years property tax revenue actually collected in the prior year. The rate is computed by dividing the total property tax collections for the year prior to reassessment by the new reassessment tax base.
Williamston Town Council has the option of keeping the windfall or granting a rollback to taxpayers on the 2003 tax bill, but have decided to keep the revenue, opting to approve a rollback on the 2004 tax notices.
Mayor Phillip Clardy stated in the November meeting of Council and at a November budget meeting that he planned to present Council with a draft budget reflecting the current millage assessment and a second draft budget with a rollback millage.
During the Dec. 1 meeting of Council, Clardy presented Council members with the option of approving a $2.4 million budget or a $2.29 million budget for 2004.
The $2.4 million budget is based on the current tax rate of 120 mills. The $2.29 million budget is based on a rollback to 106 mills.
Council approved first reading on the $2.29 million budget, which will rollback the tax millage on next years taxes, yet there has been no official action taken by council on what to do with the reassessment windfall for 2003.
As it stands, the town will receive the windfall of approximately $112,000, which is not included in either the 2003 or 2004 budget.
Councilmembers Cecil Cothran, Wade Pepper and David Harvell were all unsure whether the approved budget included the $112,000 windfall revenues the town will receive from the 2003 taxes.
Clardy told The Journal that the 2004 budget which council approved is based on 106 mills and it does not include the expected windfall revenue of $112,000 even though the towns tax bills for 2003 will bring in the revenues between now and January.
Clardy said it was not included on the 2003 budget because there was no way of knowing the effect of reassessment when the budget was approved in December of last year.
He also said it was not included in the budget he presented to Council Dec. 1 because there is a possibility that it may have to be returned to taxpayers.
Clardy said the town attorney and auditors are looking into the situation and the revenue will not be included in the budget, until we can determine whether to use it, Clardy said.
Clardy said he has asked the accountant and auditor to make recommendations on the matter.
Council may be asked to approve an amended budget in coming months, Clardy said.
He said he is also considering changing the towns operations from a calendar year to a fiscal year, which would run June to May instead of January to December.
It has been the topic of discussion with auditors, Clardy said.
Clardy said that having the town on a calendar year has caused problems with grants ond other situations because the state, county and most other municipalities operate on the fiscal year.
I have been told that you dont see that anymore, because it creates problems, Clardy said concering the town calendar year operations.
We are looking into what we have to do to change this, the consequences or repurcussion, he said. I dont think it would be tremendous other than changing over the books.
Clardy said he will have the town auditor and attorney available at a meeting to answer any questions council or the public may have on the budget process.
The 102 (120)?? millage rate under the 2003 budget will result in revenues of $994,000 for 2003. Reducing the millage rate to 106 mills will reduce property tax revenues for the town to $881,202, according to Clardy.
In the 2003 budget, Mayor Clardy projected property taxes to amount to $678,122.
The 2004 budget is based on actual revenues and expenditures from 2003 and gives a better picture of the towns operations than his previous budgets, according to Clardy.
The 2004 budget shows projected revenues of $2,291,202 with expenses of $2,291,202.
With the windfall, property tax revenues for the town will be approximately $112,000 more than the budget reflects.
The approved budget for 2004 includes an extension on a $100,000 tax anticipation note from last year that was due in October.
The ordinance also authorizes the mayor to borrow up to $500,000 in tax anticipation notes, with Council approval, if the need arises.
Second reading on the 2004 budget will be held by Town Council on Thursday, Dec. 11 at noon.
Williamston Town Council approved first reading on a $2.29 million general fund budget and a $1.475 million enterprise fund budget during their regular meeting Dec. 1.
The 2004 General Fund budget presented by Williamston Mayor Phillip Clardy 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. Payroll taxes are $21,000; retirement, $13,500; health insurance, $36,000; vehicle expense $520, down from $1,000; repairs and maintenance $11,000, supplies and expense $38,000, down from $50,000; uniforms $250 and utilities $35,000, up from $25,000.
Street department expenses include salaries of $235,000, up from $207,688; payroll taxes $20,000, retirement, $15,000, health insurance $27,000, vehicle $15,000, up from $10,000; repairs and maintenance $5,000, supplies and expense $20,000,up from $15,000; uniforms $6,500, down from $8,000;utilities $55,000, up from $40,000 and solid waste fees of $20,000.
Police department expenses include: salaries $630,000, up from $552,992; payroll taxes $60,000, retirement $5,000; health insurance $61,000; police vehicle lease $47,371; vehicles $10,000; repairs and maintenance $15,000, up from $10,000; supplies and expense $50,000, up from $15,000; uniforms $8,484, up from $5,000; and utilities, $25,000, up from $20,000.
The Parks and Recreation budget includes: salaries of $73,000, up from $65,626; payroll taxes $6,500; retirement $4,000; health insurance, $8,000; vehicles, $6,000; repairs and maintenance $2,000, down from $7,000; supplies and expense $10,000; uniforms $2,000, up from $1,000; utilities $14,000, down from $15,000; Spring Water Festival $7,000, up from $5,000; Christmas Park $3,000; Little league $15,000, up from $14,000; parades $2,000, up from $800; July 4th celebration $4,000. Department total of $156,500.
Fire Department budget includes salaries $24,000, up from $21,880; truck payment $28,148.14; vehicles $4,500; repairs and maintenance $1,509, supplies and expense $10,000, down from $15,000; uniforms $3,116, down from $4,000 and utilities of $5,120, up from $3,000, for a department total of $76,395.
Total retirement is $87,500, down from $92,027 for 2003.
Health insurance premiums amount to $132,000, down from $159,669 in 2003.
Utilities for all departments is $122,120, up from $103,000 in 2003.
The town budgeted $128,000 for supplies and expense, up from $80,000; $34,500 for repairs and maintenance (all departments).
The budget includes $36,020 for vehicles, down from $51,000 for 2003.
Professional and contract fees were increased to $30,000, up from $17,000.
Also budgeted are MASC dues, $1,728; National Guard $500; bank charges $500; municipal building repairs $1,000, and election $2,500.
Also included are insurance bond payments of $65,344; general obligation bond annual principal and interest payment of $69,244.70; loan tax note interest of $7,280; sales tax $583.
Total expenditures are budgeted at $2,291,202, an increase from $2,222,158.10 last year.
Income will come from expected property taxes of $881,202 ($994,000) up from $624,715.60 budget for 2003.
State fund revenue is expected to be $117,000, other grants $2,000, motor vehicle taxes, $174,000, up from $143,000.
Payments in lieu of taxes are $6,000, down from $92,592; homestead exemptions $90,000; merchants inventory tax $7,000; manufacturing exemptions $93,000; business license, $40,000, MASC insurance $168,000, up from $148,000 in 2003; franchise fees $304,000; MASC telecommunications, $6,000; police fines are expected to be $247,500, down from $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 $7,000, up from $3,000; park fees, $8,000; and Christmas/Spring Water festival, $13,000, up from $9,000.
Solid waste fees, $7,000; dumpster/metal sold $11,000; interest income, $1,000; anticipated grants, $2,000.
Expected revenues are $2,291,202, up from $2,222,158.10 in 2003.
Anticipated revenue for the enterprise fund includes water and sewer billing of $1,357,647; tap fees, $40,000; reconnect fees $5,000; other revenue of $65,000; permit and DHEC fees of $7,000, for a total of $1,474,647, up from $1,368,694.36 for 2003.
Expenditures for the water and sewer departments are also expected to be $1,474,647.
Second reading on the budget will be held at at noon Dec. 11 at the Williamston Municipal Center.
Releasing the best news weve had in six or eight months, Pelzer Mayor Page Henderson announced that the towns legal services agreement on the joint sewer project with West Pelzer through Rural Development has been approved.
The paperwork on the project for the Town of West Pelzer is still in process since documents had to be revised due to a change in mayors according to Pelzer Municipal Clerk Skip Watkins.
The $1.8 million project includes only $150,000 to $200,000 for work on the sewer lines so additional funds will have to be located to cover the cost of replacing sewer lines or to develop new technology according to Henderson. New technology could possibly involve a pump at every house to handle sewage at a meter. Henderson estimated the total cost of sewer line work to be approximately $5.667 million.
Henderson said that he is talking with County Administrator Joey Preston and Representative Gresham Barrett about locating grant money to fund the sewer line project. According to Henderson, county engineering consultants Jim Longshore and Dewey Pearson will prepare information to give to Barrett to assist in getting funding.
Henderson reported that County Transportation Director Holt Hopkins came out to look at the drainage problem in the Pelzer Park. Henderson said that the county will add to the low-lying area in the park at no charge to the town so that the water will drain properly.
The county also agreed to provide the labor to install a gate near the unused water tower to reduce traffic and vandalism in the park. The town will purchase all the material for the project which will limit access to the park to the Highway 20 entrance only.
Henderson also reported that he had written letters to Joey Preston, Rusty Burns, and Cindy Wilson about improvements on the Pelzer gymnasium. Assistant County Administrator Michael Cunningham is turning the request over to Appalachian Council of Governments (ACOG) which will direct the request to Parks, Recreation and Tourism.
Henderson estimated $4,470 to upgrade and install a new sprinkler system and $13,941 to install a new roof on the gym. Henderson also reported little success in getting bids from companies on repairing termite damage, replacing restrooms, repairing water damage, and installing a forced-air heating system to the gym which he described as a landmark for this part of the county.
Henderson also reported little success in getting CSX to remove 300 to 400 buckets of spikes at a railroad crossing. According to Henderson, CSX states that a magnet unit is required to remove the buckets and that the project is currently a low priority item.
The next step in the process of an agreement with West Pelzer to provide police protection to Pelzer would be for the mayors and a town council representative from each town to meet with Town Attorney Jimmy King according to Henderson. Henderson requested that Steve McGregor act as the representative from the Pelzer Town Council in the negotiations.
The council appointed the following members to the Municipal Election Commission: Duncan Adams, 2 year term; Jackie Vaughn, 4 year term; Donna Ide, 6 year term and chairman.
Watkins reported that King had consulted with the governors legal assistant about the new election. The election is tentatively scheduled for the first Tuesday in March with voter registration remaining the same as November 2003.
The Town of West Pelzer may have a solution to some or all of its sewer problems if a new product performs as expected.
Town officials voted unanimously to pursue a 30-day trial test with Organic Products of South Carolina after company representatives presented information at Tuesday nights council meeting.
Organic Products consultant Terry Henson explained that the company is working to reduce solids for waste water treatment plants. Henson said the company could guarantee a 20% to 40% reduction in sludge in 30 days for the towns system.
Senior Vice-President Bruce Watford of Organic Products even proposed that with use of the companys product the town would not have to hook on to the Western Carolina line.
Watford explained that the all-natural botanical product used by the company is developed from new technology designed to break down organic matter without using traditional methods of dumping large amounts of foreign bacteria into a system.
According to company literature, the product called Bio Miracle acts to strengthen and build up present bacteria allowing it to become resistant to harsh conditions. This process promotes exceptional growth of the existing bacteria resulting in a rapid consumption of organic solids.
Watford proposed that his company collect samples to determine what formulation the town needs and supervise a 30-day use of the product. The decision to continue use of the product would be on a month-to-month basis with no contracts involved according to Watford.
Mayor Peggy Paxton asked about handling the current Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) consent order. Watford explained that the order could be changed and that his company would work with DHEC on the towns situation.
In other business, Paxton discussed using a Community Development Block Grant for new water lines. According to Paxton, the town could receive a maximum of $500,000 if the town could match 10% of the grant money.
According Paxton, County Council Representative Cindy Wilson, Senator Billy ODell and Representative Gresham Barrett had all promised to assist in getting the matching funds. The council voted unanimously to pursue the grant through Rusty Burns.
Paxton also reported that $4,816.75 in fines had been collected beginning in November until the present time. Old fines from bench warrants amounting to $1,841 was also collected according to Paxton.
Paxton also announced that the town had reached an agreement with John Parales, a state constable. Parales, 49, lives on Hoyt Street and will work with the current police officers at no charge to the town until he receives training. He will attend the police academy in January and begin work with the police force when he completes the course of study at the academy, Paxton announced.
Councilman Joe Turner made a motion to purchase state-of-the-art bullet-proof vests for the towns police officers. Turners motion received unanimous council approval.
Council member Maida Kelly mentioned that she had heard many comments from citizens about the work that the county had done around the town. According to Kelly, trimming and cleanup work was done by the county in the following areas: Dendy Street, Stephanie Drive, Mill Street, Spring Street, Depot Road, Burkett Street, Smith Street, Arthur Davis Circle, and Railroad Boulevard.
Leona Parker, a longtime Williamston resident and school teacher, was honored Dec. 2 with a party celebrating her 80th birthday at the Williamston Municipal Center.
A crowd of approximately 50 friends and well wishers gathered for the event which included signing red apple Christmas ornaments for a Miss Parker Christmas tree that was on display and signing special cards for her.
Speakers on the program included Williamston Mayor Phillip Clardy, former student and lifelong friend Doris Cole and longtime friend and fellow church member, Bill Pascoe.
Pascoes remarks included:
I have been asked to make a few remarks about our honored birthday lady and I have to dig deeply in my faulty memory to remember back in 1939 when Leona appeared on the scene with her mother and dad, John Bill and Katherine. They lived on the Parker Place on Beaverdam Rd. and Mr. Wayne farmed and packed fruit in Florida, Pascoe said.
According to Pascoe, Parker entered the new school in Williamston in 1939, which was built at the present site, after the Williamston Female College was removed.
She graduated in 1941 from high school and entered Montreat College, graduating in 1943.
Parker began teaching 3rd and 4th grades at Cedar Grove after graduating college.
She taught 1st and 2nd grade for three years at Gossett School and then went to the old Williamston High School, teaching 3rd and 4th grade.
She taught until her retirement in 1978, resulting in a teaching career covering 33 years.
During the summers from 1943 to 1955, Parker went to summer school at Furman University and received her B.A. degree in 1955.
She substituted until 2000, when she began volunteering. At present, her usual volunteer work is with first graders at Spearman Elementary on Fridays.
She is also active in the Williamston Presbyterian Church, where she has played piano for the Sunday School class since about 1940, according to Pascoe.
She played the organ for church services for many years and was also a member of the choir.
According to Pascoe, Parker made a profession of faith at a church in Lake Hamilton Fla. when she was 10 years old. She has been a member of the Williamston Presbyterian Church since 1939 and taught Sunday School for 40 years.
Parker also spends many hours in prayer and visiting shut-ins and sick persons.
She is in contact with many each week and has furnished many with the famous Russian tea and pound cakes, Pascoe said.
Parker has been active in the Sunshine Club program which provides a meal and program monthly for seniors at the church.
Leona has always given liberally of her means as well as her time to her church and community for some 64 years which is an enviable record, Pascoe said. It is our hope and prayer that she uses this 80th birthday as a stepping stone to more years of unselfish service filled with personal contentment.