By Stan Welch – The West Pelzer Town Council finally gave official and final approval to the 2012-2013 budget Monday night. The third vote was necessary because a public hearing required by state law was inadvertently forgotten and had to be scheduled after the second reading, which usually would have been the final reading.
Ironically, not a single person attended the public hearing.
The budget, as finally approved Monday, will reflect several fee increases. Late fees for payment of water bills will increase from five to fifteen dollars, while the reconnect fee will double to fifty dollars. The fee for a zoning change application will be a flat ten dollar fee.
Deposits to have water turned on will also increase. For a property owner, the fee will be $100. For a renter opening a new account, the deposit will be $200, unless the landlord signs a form agreeing to be responsible for the bill. Then the deposit will be $150.
Those new fees will go into effect on October 1, in order to allow the new rates to be announced on the September water bills.
Councilman Blake Johnson reported on several activities of the Palmetto Area Development Committee, which includes members from Pelzer, West Pelzer and Williamston, and which is working to attract businesses and industry to the area. (See related story elsewhere in this issue of The Journal.)
Council also reviewed a proposal to improve the waste area currently existing between the new Chapman Park and the parking lot of the town hall. A proposal by the company constructing the park to tear out existing asphalt and fill and grade the area, as well as add some stone work and pillars, and construct a sixteen foot walkway to connect the areas came to almost $17,500.
Mayor Paxton explained that the funds would come from the town’s hospitality tax revenues, which are earmarked for such recreation related expenses. Councilman Robert Alexander said that the asphalt could be removed and hauled away with town equipment and volunteered to do the job himself.
After considerable discussion, it was decided to ask the contractor to remove the planting of ten crepe myrtles, the asphalt removal, and the pillars and stonework from their estimate, which could save approximately $6600.
Councilman Alexander also received assurances from Mayor Paxton that a check register of the town’s expenditures will be made available to all Councilmembers on a monthly basis. Alexander has expressed his wish to receive more detailed information about the town’s finances.
Paxton explained that the current arrangement, which basically provides a complete accounting of the town’s expenditures, but does so once a year, had been agreed upon by the Council prior to Alexander’s election.
“ If you prefer this way, that’s fine,” said Paxton. “Then, if you have specific questions, you can come and ask Paula (Payton, town clerk – editor’s addition) and she can show you the specific invoices. If you or anyone else comes up here asking for something and they don’t get it, I want to know about it.”