Pelzer prepares for water, sewer rate increases; plans to keep pool

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By Stan Welch
The Pelzer Town Council met Friday, and dealt with several circumstances created by the sudden resignation of Mayor Kenneth Davis, as well as the death that morning of Ricki Riddle, election commission member and wife of Councilman Tony Riddle. The Council, working with a bare quorum of three members, due to the absence of Councilman Riddle, reelected Steve McGregor as mayor pro tem, and proceeded with the other business before them.

No longer faced with Davis’s opposition to opening the town pool this summer, the Council quickly voted unanimously to do so.

They then discussed the issue of acquiring approximately 70-80 rights of way along the proposed second phase of the town’s ingress and infiltration sewer rehabilitation project. Town attorney Jimmy King said that the Town was hoping to be allowed to use the same method for determining the rights of way that they used in phase one.

Court records were used in that phase. King said to conduct that many field surveys instead would cost between $35,000 and $40,000. “That is money that the Town really doesn’t need to spend,” said King. Town administrator Skip Watkins said that he has had difficulty in getting representatives of the Rural Development Administration (RDA) to schedule a meeting to discuss the issue.

The vacancies created by the sudden passing of Ms. Riddle, and the expiration of the term of member Kay Fowler left the election commission unprepared to conduct the special election scheduled for May to elect a Mayor. Attorney King stressed the necessity for addressing the issue quickly. “We need to fill this commission by the first of March. If we need a special called meeting to do that, then we will have to have one.”

The new and higher water and sewer rates that the Town faces were discussed. Those rates have been determined by the RDA and set at a level sufficient to repay the loans used to construct the new lines. Watkins recommended putting the new rates in by August of this year.

The current residential rates call for a minimum bill of $16.75 month for the first thousand gallons used, and $4.60 per thousand gallons after that. The new rates will be $23.00 for the first thousand gallons, and $8.00 per thousand after that. Consequently, a residence using just five thousand gallons a month will see its cost go from $35.15 a month to $55.00 a month.

Commercial rates will go from a monthly minimum of $16.75 for the first thousand gallons to $35.00 minimum. The cost per thousand gallons after that goes from the current rate of $4.60 per thousand gallons to $10.00 per thousand gallons. A commercial user using ten thousand gallons a month will see the cost increase from $58.15 to $125.00 per month.

He also suggested reducing the billing period from two months to one, to reduce the impact of the new rates. “We don’t want to send out bills for hundreds of dollars if we don’t have to.” Council voted unanimously to start the new rates in August as well as reducing the billing cycle.

Dianne Lollis, of the Pelzer Heritage Commission presented a list of projects the Commission is seeking to implement and asked that the Council vote to approve them. The Council did approve the placement of several signs, including one indicating the Wilson Family Cemetery’s location behind the Monkey Park; two signs saying “Welcome to Pelzer”; and a large historical sign to be placed in an area adjacent to the school property.

A vote on the list of landscaping projects was delayed for study, with the provision that they would be placed on the agenda for the special called meeting to be held to fill the election commission vacancies.

Attorney King also insisted that the Council formally vote to accept Kenneth Davis’s resignation before going into executive session to discuss legal issues. They did so unanimously.

Davis’s resignation would appear to remove any conflict of interest since he plans to offer a bid on the Town’s garbage pickup contract once that reworked contract is let for bid in the coming weeks. (See related story elsewhere in this issue of The Journal.)