Council approves $113,800 end of year expenditures with budget amendment

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Approves 2015-16 budget with no discussion

Wiliamston Town Council – long version

ByDavid Meade

During their monthly meeting Monday, Williamston Town Council approved changes to the current budget and approved a new budget as well as changing the time of council meetings. Council also held second reading on an amended smoking ordinance, amended wrecker ordinance, declined to purchase property, and addressed the change of government by setting a time when it will take place and intentions of council if it does.

Grace Methodist Pastor Kempie Shepard said that toddlers and parents were enjoying the new playground equipment recently placed in Mineral Spring Park and that the whale “is the most popular.”

She also said there had been some complaints about the size and the cost. “If anyone has $16,000 they would like to contribute we will add to it,” Shepard said.

She also suggested expanding the park and playground area because of it being more used and crowded and made suggestions about traffic at the ballfields.

Shepard, who serves on the town’s Parks and Recreation Committee said she will be moving and will resign as the chairman in June.

“Thank you for letting me be a part of this town for the last 10 years. I will miss apearing before you and saying thanks.”

Brandon Head requested the town consider sponsoring a fund raising event for the Presbyterian Church Food Bank in Williamston.

Head said the High Low Car Club will hold a cruise-in on May 30. Entry fees will be canned or dry goods for the local pantry, he said.

He asked the town to sponsor the event so that it will be covered under the town’s liability insurance policy.

The event will be held in the Town Square Center parking lot.

Jason Darby read a letter of apology to the town and said he was sorry for what he had done and had learned to think about consequences from the experience.

Daniel Gamble said Cherokee Road needs paving, the town needs economic development and that there are good things happening with upcoming events in Williamston.

Williamston Police Chief Tony Taylor gave a report on activity for the department. He also said the department has upcoming events including a citizens academy, mentoring program offering civic opportunities to younger people. a citizens advisory board, crime watch and working on having a parttime codes enforcement.

“It is a great opportunity for our citizens and police department,” Councilman Tony Hagood said.

Town cleanup in Ward 2 will be held this week, Ward 3 next week and Ward 4 the following week. Ward 1 was last week.

The town will coordinate a town wide cleanup soon, Taylor said. A cleanup is also being held in Hamilton Hills this Saturday.

Councilman David Harvell and Chief Taylor will meet with the recreation director about parking and traffic at the ballfields.

Williamston’s new Main Street Director Sonya Crandall was introduced during the meeting.

Crandall began her new position on Friday and said she is “delighted to be here.”

“Thank you for the warm welcome and there are so many exciting projects already in progress.”

She said she is already working on a five neighborhood approach for the town.

Planning Commission Chair Marion Middleton Jr. said there will be a series of meetings over the next months for a Community Master Plan.

Tee Coker of Arnett Muldrow & Associates, said that the Envision Williamston community plan has the goal to create a communitywide shared vision of the future of Williamston for the next twenty years.

Second reading was held on the amended smoking ordinance exempting retail tobacco stores from the town’s ordinance. The change allows retail tobacco stores and evape businesses to allow smoking in their businesses.

The amended ordinance passed 4-1 with Councilman Rockey Burgess oppossed. Burgess said he opposed the ordinance because it restricts smoking in a private business.

Council unanimously approved the amended wrecker ordinance which requires a business license for out of town services requested in the town and setting fees in line with SC Hwy. Patrol.

Council agreed to change the time of the regular monthly council meeting from 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Williamston Mayor Mack Durham said the change would better meet the needs of persons working or coming in from out of town and to engage the community more and more.”

“This is a bedroom community and we would like to see more people at our meetings,” the mayor said.

After going into executive session to hear legal advice on a property purchase offer, council considered the offer of $5600 for five lots off Minor/College street, but discussion and vote died for lack of a second. Property owner Al Sullivan offered to sell the property back to the town for what he had paid for it when the town auctioned it off to help pay debts several years ago.

Council unanimously agreed to have the town’s change of government take effect on July 1 if it is approved during a special election referendum on June 9.

Council also unanimously approved a resolution drafted by Councilman Burgess stating intentions of council if the change of government referendum passes.

The resolution states three things:

Individual councilmen shall not be involved in the day to day administrative functions of the town; Council shall grant authority to the mayor to carry out the day to day administrative functions and Individual councilmen shall not give direct instruction or directives to town employees.

The resolution, which holds no legal bite, was passed with a 3-2 vote. Councilman Hagood and Mayor Durham opposed.

Council unanimously approved an amendment to the current budget allowing for expenditures of nine items totaling $113,800.

Items to be purchased from the town’s hospitality tax fund include: a police ATV, parks and recreation maintenance items, Brookdale Park improvements and painting town hall.

Items to be paid from the town’s General Fund include: shed for Gray Drive park, a new phone system for town hall and a used garbage truck.

According to Mayor Mack Durham, the budget amendment also allows for two items already in effect prior to being voted on, an across the board five percent salary increase for town employees and $1500 for repair work done on the creek bank.

Proposals and highlights were discussed during a council work session held last week.

First reading on the 2015-2016 budget was unanimously approved with no discussion. The town’s General Fund budget shows revenues of $2,830,373 with expenditures of $2,830,373.

Council approved a Peace Officers Memorial Day resolution and update on Gatewood.

(Additional details on the budget will be covered by The Journal next week)