Pelzer Council takes detailed look at budget

By David Meade
During a three hour workshop Tuesday, Pelzer Town Council  went through line items in the budget, discussing details on many of them including rental income,  franchise fees, professional services and maintenance and grass.
Only six citizens attended.
With the exception of Mayor Steve McGregor, who has the responsibility of presenting a budget under the strong mayor form of government, this is the first budget prepared under the all new council. It is also the first budget prepared without former Town Administrator Skip Watkins and using the new QS1 billing and accounting system the town changed over to last year.

Town Clerk Heather Holcombe fielded several questions about the budget and expressed frustration that she was not prepared to answer some of those questions, stating if she had known in advance she would have had the information available.
Holcombe also expressed frustration that since Watkins and two other employees of the public works department left, the responsibilities of  operating the town, including those once handled by Watkins, have fallen on one person.
After some discussion between Holcombe and Councilmember Kim Wilson, Mayor Steve McGregor said that the town has been in transition and they  “have been coming at it as a new town.”
The budget was prepared with the help of West Pelzer Town Clerk Paula Payton and was presented in a different format than in the past, but based on the financial information available and the numbers in the current budget.
Payton told council the budget is a “balanced budget” and does have contingency and reserve funds for captital projects and recreation that could be used in other areas.
Maintenance and grass received a good bit of attention, including discussion on contracts and how much the recently combined public works department will be responsible for. There was some discussion about which town properties are included in the contract.
Mayor McGregor said he is negotiating with one vendor for the service at a lower price than the town has been paying, at $12,360.
Payton said the $14,700 line item in the budget for maintenance and grass will probably be less.
There was some discussion about REWA purchasing the sewer system and how that would affect the town.
REWA is currently doing a feasibility study to look at the possibilities associated with the town’s sewer operations.
McGregor said if REWA did buy the system, it would eliminate the 40 year RDA loan the town currently has for upgrades made on the system and lines in recent years.
McGregor also said that savings the town may see could be put toward adding a police officer in West Pelzer and proceeding with a proposal made by West Pelzer earlier this year to provide police protection in Pelzer.
McGregor said he has had conversations with West Pelzer Mayor Blake Sanders about the possibility, adding that West Pelzer has a court system in place to enforce ordinances.
There was some discussion about an increase in the Hospitality Tax fund in the budget, attributed to the Mexican restaurant being added in the annexation.
Both Holcombe and Payton agreed that they work well together and that combining the clerks offices will help with the staffing situation Pelzer currently has.
A public hearing on the budget has been scheduled for 6:30 p.m. June 13 at the Pelzer Community Building.
The hearing will be held prior to the regular meeting of Pelzer Town Council at 7 p.m. that evening.