By David Meade
During their meeting Monday, Pelzer Town Council approved a resolution to adopt a USDA Rural Utilities Service grant/loan agreement that will allow the town to proceed with Phase II of a sewer improvement project. They also discussed annexation.
The Phase II project includes replacement of aging sewer lines with completely new lines serving approximately 58 residences.
Debbie Green of RUS presented information about the letter of conditions for the 25 percent loan/ 75 percent grant.
The town sent a written request on March 10 for additional funds to cover a cost overrun of $370,000 which will be the loan portion of the agreement. The grant is for $1,130,673. Interest rate on the loan will be at 2.125 percent Green said.
The first USDA RUS loan/grant for Phase I of the sewer project included a $1.65 million loan and a $2.879 million grant. Interest rate on that loan is 2.5 percent.
Total amount budgeted for the project amounts to $5,444,673.
Monthly payments for the town are $3,568 on the original amount with the new loan payment of $1,166 added for a total of $4734. The loan will be repaid over 40 years.
As a requirement of the loan, the town is also putting $474 each month in reserve for the next 10 years. This is $2,600 annually.
The reserves are for unanticipated emergency maintenance and repairs and can be used to assist with debt service should the need arise.
The new loan will add about $10 per month to the average water/sewer bill.
Pelzer Town Clerk Heather Holcombe gave an update on the town’s annexation effort.
Holcombe said the annexation petition was approved and an election will be held June 9 to decide on the referendum. The Anderson County Election Commission will run the election, she said.
Any registered voter in the Pelzer voting precinct can participate in the election which will decide, by majority vote, if the entire Pelzer voting precinct will be incorporated into the town limits of Pelzer.
If the referendum passes and the town limits are extended, any person residing in the new town limits for at least thirty days is eligible to run for office and/or vote in the next town election which will be in November.
Jay Darby, a resident of Kendal Acres on Depot Road, asked questions about the annexation.
The subdivision is currently located in the county, however it is in the Pelzer voting precinct and will be included in the annexation if it passes.
Darby said that he is a customer of the Williamston water system and some of his neighbors are served by Big Creek Water.
Darby also asked about any advantages or services that would be provided by the town if the incorporation happens.
That led to considerable comments from Mayor Steve McGregor and councilmembers about the annexation process and where the town is going.
McGregor stated that the incorporation effort was to bring the original mill village into the town and he didn’t realize that Darby’s neighborhood was included. The Anderson County Election Commission defined the area of incorporation as the Pelzer voting precinct, he said.
Holcombe said that the boundaries were set as the voting precicnt because that was the easiest way for the Election Commission to define the area.
Councilwoman Cheryl Beaudreau said that eventual police protections, the right to vote, and the right to help Pelzer grow were some of the initial advantages to being a part of the town.
She did point out that currently there are no taxes paid by residents that are already in the town, however there is a 3 percent franchise fee paid on Charter and Duke Energy bills.
One of the biggest advantages according to Beaudreau would be the possibility of police protection.
“We really need to consider police protection,” Beaudreau said. “We want to make Pelzer a better place.”
It was also pointed out that annexation would make the Pelzer footprint bigger and make them more likely to get Federal grants.
Councilwoman Donna Ide told Darby, “We appreciate you coming before us and letting us know your concerns.”
Work truck purchase
Council approved the purchase of a work truck which is needed so that town workers can pull two large pieces of equipment at the same time. Maintenance Department Head Brad West requested council consider the purchase of a 2002 Diesel 3/4 ton crew cab truck. West said it was needed because his crew required to do inspections and work on the sewer lines which require a camera and cleaning equipment.
Both pieces of equipment are on large trailers and considerable time is being lost unhooking one to go get the other to a work site.
Town Administrator Skip Watkins said that the REWA sewer contract has additional requirements for line cleaning and use of the camera.
The cleaning jet has a 300 gallon water tank with it, making it necessary to have a large truck to pull it, Watkins said.
After a brief executive session to discuss the purchase, council returned to open session and agreed to proceed with the purchase.
The locally owned truck has approximately 200k miles and is being purchased for $14,000.
The Town also recently finalized the sale of the Pelzer pool property. Roger Scott purchased the approximate 1.25 acre property and facilities for $25,000.