Hospitality Tax funding included
By David Meade
Williamston Town Council will hold a public hearing and final reading on the 2016-17 budget at their meeting on Monday, June 13 which will be held at 6:30 p.m. The General Fund Budget shows revenues and expenses of $2,967,373. The Water Fund budget is $931,300. The Sewer Fund budget is $968,000.
During a work session held Tuesday Council members, discussion focused on four primary issues. Two were road repairs and codes enforcement. The other two involved an administrative position and use of hospitality tax funds for some budget requests.
There was discussion about getting potholes fixed and street paving as well as a recent request to the Anderson County Transportation Committee (ACTC) to fix a problem on Minor Street by a culvert replacement.
Williamston Street Department Head David Rogers presented information to the ACTC about the problem being caused by washout around a drain pipe that runs under the road.
Council will entertain a resolution to officially request the repair work at their next meeting on Monday.
There was considerable discussion about general nuisance abatement and codes enforcement, particularly regarding grass cutting on properties with absentee owners and other related code violations.
Several councilmembers said they have had residents complain about specific situations in their Wards.
Williamston Mayor Mack Durham said he will talk with the police chief about the codes enforcement situation.
There was considerable discussion about an office position which has been vacant for several months. Councilman Rockey Burgess asked about the position and funding for it that is included in the new budget.
Mayor Durham said he is planning to fill the position to meet what he sees as the need for additional help in planning and management in the administration department. There was some discussion also helping with events coordination.
That led to some discussion about the role of the Main Street/Envision Williamston program.
Councilman Burgess expressed concerns about several items requested in the Envision Williamston budget including funding for a Main Street Challenge project, a Howdy Day cleanup day and murals. Burgess said he sees the Main Street Challenge as an economic development project and had concerns about the funding coming from Hospitality Tax funds.
Town Attorney Lee Cole said he thought the funding could be justified because economic development and tourism in the state are so closely related.
“Could I justify it, yes I could,” he said. “I don’t think anything in the list is completely ouside our scope.”
The Envision Williamston (EW) budget request also includes funding for an electronic message sign and new street banners. Total requested for EW is $40,000.
The EW funding, along with a $30,000 match for an ARC grant for the Depot will come from a Hospitality Tax reserve fund of $70,000.
The hospitality reserve is from the first year the hospitality tax went into effect and was restricted so that there would be a base before town officials began allocating it. The hospitality reserve could not be used unless an entire year of Hospitality Tax funds were expended. The reserve will be available this budget year because the town is budgeting the entire proceeds expected for 2016-17.
Total funding budgeted for Hospitality Tax for 2016-17 is $185,000.
Hospitality Tax budget Funding includes funding for the following: Park Upkeep $10,000; Christmas Parade $800; Cemetery Candle Light $650; Boo inthe Park $2550; Spring Water Festival $10,000; 4th of July $9000; PBA Easter Egg Hunt $500; Pig in the Park $5000; Security and Clean up for Events $15,000; Cemetery Committee $2500; Veterans Day $1000; Memorial Day $1000; Farmfest Festival $1515; Homestead Festival $2625; Community Center $10,000; ARC grant match $66,000; Party in the Park $6500, Capital improvements $40,350.