Tax base, police protection top of list for Pelzer council

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During Council workshop

By David Meade – During the Pelzer Town Council workshop held Tuesday, council members discussed a number of topics related to the future of the town including several grants, possible improvements, revitalization efforts and setting a millage rate to provide a base for services. Mayor Steve McGregor began the meeting reporting that the town had received several letters of support that were included in an Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) grant application that was submitted last week.

McGregor said that the towns of West Pelzer and Williamston, along with Anderson County, the Palmetto Business Association and Pelzer Heritage Commission provided letters. The $48,000 ARC grant is a Federal grant that if awarded to the town will be used to pay for a Master Plan for the Town of Pelzer. The deadline to apply for the grant was Jan. 23.

The Master Plan will provide a guide for the town and will be helpful in applying for additional grants in the future.

McGregor also reported that the Town of Pelzer had joined the Palmetto Business Association and that the mayors of Pelzer, West Pelzer and Williamston will be meeting. The mayor said that both actions will allow for networking and community relations.

Pelzer Clerk Heather Holcombe reported she will attend a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) grant application workshop. CDBG grants are available to help with infrastructure such as water lines and neighborhood revitalization.

Brad West reported there were some contingency funds left in the Phase 2 sewer account and that the project could include additional work.

Mayor McGregor reported that four dilapidated houses will be demolished under the Neighborhood Initiative Program with help from Anderson County. The structures being torn down are located at 16 Lopez, 16 Parker, 10 Langley and 13 Frost Streets.

Mayor McGregor said that he would like to use hospitality money for some improvements to the Pelzer gym including scraping paint, pressure washing and adding siding. There was some discussion about the windows and possibly holding off to see if there may be a preservation grant available.

Councilman Will Ragland said that there may be a preservation grant of $30,000 available for historic structures that are located within a Historic District.

The Pelzer Heritage Commission is in the process of having a historic district established in Pelzer that will include the gym and hospital buildings.

Council briefly discussed using the next PARD grant they receive for improvements to Wardlaw Park, located just behind the town offices. The PARD grant presented to the town in 2016 by House Rep. Anne Thayer and now Senator Mike Gambrell, is designated for deck and awning improvements at the Pelzer Community Building.

One of the main discussions during the workshop was setting a millage rate of taxation.

Town consultant and former administrator Skip Watkins recapped information that has been presented to the council.

Watkins said that the most conservative comparison of tax base, millage rates and projected revenues of the municipalites in Anderson County, was those for the Town of Iva.

According to Watkins, Iva’s tax base is on assessed values of approximately $1.95 million with a resulting millage rate of .189. The projected tax base is comprised of residential and commercial property, autos, boats, motors and other personal property.

Watkins said he based his figures on expenditures for town services amounting to approximately $414,000 and a millage rate of .209.

Projected expenditures include a police department with three officers and a chief, adding one town employee with salary and benefits and other expected expenses.

Watkins’ projections include: $54,775 for an additional employee and related benefits, $10,000 for planning, $40,000 for building and maintenance, $252,000 for a police department, $12,600 for court operations, $25,000 for street and road maintenance and a five percent contingency of $19,719.

Projections for a police department are based on recent costs for the Town of Pendleton to reestablish their police department. There was some discussion about additional startup costs and where a police department would be housed.

There was also some discussion about other police protection options with the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office and West Pelzer.

There was some discussion about whether certain real property items could be excluded from the tax base including automobiles and boats.

During the meeting there was some discussion about the REWA offer to evaluate the sewer system to see if there are options there and the related effect with West Pelzer.

Clarification – In the Pelzer Town Council story published in the Jan. 11 issue of The Journal, Mayor Steve McGregor reported Pelzer is applying for a $48,000 Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) grant for a Master Plan for the town. The Journal incorrectly reported that a public meeting was scheduled for Jan. 23. What McGregor actually said was that a public meeting will be held on the grant and that the deadline for the ARC grant application was Jan. 23. The Journal regrets any confusion this may have caused.