By David Meade
Pelzer Town Council received information from the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office, heard suggestions for an intergovernmental agreement with West Pelzer for services and heard their first report on the operations of the public works department which recently merged with West Pelzer.
West Pelzer assumed the operation and maintenance of Pelzer’s water and sewer system about a month ago under an agreement that combined the two departments.
West Pelzer essentially absorbed the Pelzer department, including a tractor, two vehicles, equipment and inventory of parts.
A third employee has been hired and will begin work at the end of the month.
As a result of the merger, there was a new face reporting to council.
In the Public Works report, West Pelzer Town Clerk Paula Payton told council that a new system is now being used for Pelzer residents to report emergencies or other problems to the public works department.
Payton said work orders or problems can be submitted online through the Town of West Pelzer website or they can also be submitted by phone at 947-6297 option 3 which will go to directly to the Public Works Department.
During regular business hours an employee will answer. If no answer or after hours, callers should leave a message and an email will be sent to alert the public works department employee.
Payton said she had spoken with Dunn and Associates about the status of the Pelzer sewer upgrade project.
She reported that J&M Construction, the subcontractor on the project, is in the process of finishing several small projects that were not a part of the original project. The funding is from remaining funds of the Rural Development grant/loan for the original Phase 2 sewer project and must be approved by RD before the work can be completed.
Payton also reported that meter reading in Pelzer will now be entered into a laptop system which will be coordinated with Pelzer’s billing system.
Though the two towns use different systems, the information from the West Pelzer laptops is compatible with the Pelzer system and can be downloaded. The process saves time by not having to manually enter the billing information into Pelzer’s billing system, she said.
Billing for water and sewer will still be handled by the Town of Pelzer.
Payton also reported that a standard procurement form will be used for all purchases made by the department and a copy will be sent to the Town of Pelzer.
Pelzer Clerk Heather Holcombe will check the form and agree with Payton that a purchase is necessary and that funding is in the budget.
All expenses for the department are being divided on a 55/45 basis with Pelzer paying the larger share due to the larger number of customers on their system.
In closing Payton said, “For West Pelzer this has been a great venture and is going good.”
Lt. David Baker of the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office presented some information on code enforcement and other law enforcement options.
Baker said that his research showed that if the town didn’t have any codes, the Anderson County codes and enforcement would not apply within the corporate town limits.
“It is up to the municipality to enact codes,” he said.
He also said that there has to be a municipal body or judge to hear a case. “A county magistrate can’t hear a municipal case,” Baker said. “A municipality can contract with a neighboring municipality to hear a case.”
He said there are options for dual duty for clerk of court, which is also required.
Anderson County Sheriff Chad McBride told council that his department is committed to trying to help Pelzer and that with recent changes under his administration, hopefully residents are seeing more deputies patrolling in the area.
One option he presented , which is being done in Starr, is that an off duty uniformed patrol officer can be hired to patrol and run radar.
Under that option the patrols would be on different days and at different times and concentrating on certain areas.
McBride said an officer could be hired at $35 per hour with a three hour minimum which includes the vehicle.
McBride also explained a new patrol pattern in which the county has been divided into nine smaller areas for his deputies to patrol.
“The much smaller areas have reduced response time,” he said.
The Pelzer area extends to White Plains, McBride said,
He also explained that his department is trying to raise the starting pay for an officer from $31,000 to $32,000 and bring it more in line with neighboring counties.
Though the two towns have already combined their public works department, an Intergovernmental contractual agreement is being drawn up regarding water, sewer and grass cutting.
Town Attorney Jimmy King offered suggestions on the contractual agreement.
King asked about the payment of insurance and workers compensation.
Pelzer Clerk Payton said that the cost is being allocated in the book work and that all costs including repairs are being allocated on the 45/55 split.
King also suggested ownership of capital equipment should be addressed in the agreement.
King said it appeared “Everything is working quiet well” between the two towns and that they take another month to look over the agreement between them.
He also noted that while the current mayors and councils for both towns are working together, that could change with an election.
King suggested a committee be formed with the mayors and another representative from each town to meet quarterly to review bookwork and to talk about the issues affecting both towns.
King said he thought they could have a “really good agreement at the next meeting.”
King also advised council that at some point they will need to look at road maintenance and setting a tax base.
In other business, Council unanimously approved a take home policy for town vehicles, related to changes in the public works department.
During public comments, resident Bill Davis suggested a number of projects, events and other ideas that he said may create community involvement and that the town could capitalize on. Following his suggestions, Mayor Steve McGregor unofficially appointed him to head a committee to look into possibilities.
Public comments also included questions on replacing the goal nets at the basketball courts and whether a take home policy for town vehicles for employees creates a taxable benefit.