By David Meade
Williamston Town Council had a full agenda for their Dec. 4 meeting.
During public comments, Jan Dawkins spoke with concerns she and other residents had about the town’s new garbage ordinance, which was also on the agenda.
Dawkins’ main concern was a $5.50 monthly fee for a second trash bin. Dawkins questioned why residents couldn’t purchase the second bin outright instead of paying the ongoing monthly fee.
Williamston Police Chief Tony Taylor reported monthly call figures. He said the department will begin a new program called Coffee with a Cop, which will involve having officers available to talk with residents at local banks.
Envision Williamston Executive Director Sonya Crandall reported the program is continuing with the “transformation strategy” for the town.
New banners and hardware for hanging them are being purchased to extend along Greenville Drive and Anderson Drive early next year.
Crandall reported that the program is still accepting applications for round two of the facade grant program.
She also announced the winners of the Main Street Challenge
Chris and Samantha Wagner plan to open an events venue.
Khaled Al Fackl and Imad Alchaieb plan to open a Middle Eastern/Mediterranean Sandwich Shop and Deli.
Each of the two winners will receive a grant totaling up to $10,000 to start up and operate their businesses in the town. (See separate story)
Winners of the Envision Williamston Scarecrow Decorating Contest were also announced and presented plaques. (See separate story and photos)
Debbie Chapman gave her codes enforcement report. Ten complaints were received during the month of November and ten properties were posted with orange Violation notices. (For more codes report details see separate story).
Ken Meadows of Greene Finney Accounting Firm presented information on the town’s annual audit. Meadows said the town received an “Unqualified Opinion” which he said “is the best opinion you can get.”
The audit showed the town’s General Fund balance decreased from $2.193 million to $2.106 million, however it is still enough to put the town in strong financial condition according to the auditor. (See separate story)
Council then discussed amendments to the trash ordinance.
Councilman Rockey Burgess said council members had some of the same concerns brought up in the public comments.
Burgess explained that the Street Department had revenues of $193,497 and expenses of $407,000 for trash pickup services, which he said amounts to a cost of approximately $19.97 per customer.
Currently the town’s 1700 customers pay a $7 garbage fee with the rest covered by city taxes.
Burgess said residents need an incentive for paying city taxes and garbage pickup service is a must.
Burgess said looking out for the town’s financial condition is part of his job but looking out for residents is his job also.
Burgess said there were other concerns expressed about the second trash bin and holiday pickup.
Some of the concerns were addressed in an amendment to the ordinance which allows residents to obtain a second container from the town for a set one time cost instead of the original monthly fee of 5.50.
Burgess said the ninety-eight gallon container being provided by the town is quality-made and adds to the look and decor of the town. He also added that replacement of damaged containers will be determined based on whether there is negligence by the owner.
Burgess said a second tipper can be provided by the resident but if it is a cheap version and doesn’t hold up to pick up by the town’s new truck, the town will not be responsible if it breaks.
He also announced that the ordinance increases the current monthly garbage fee from $7 to $10.
Mayor Mack Durham said the entire council had worked on the trash ordinance during a recent work session and that the garbage fee had to be increased.
He thanked the council for the “fiscal foresight to get on board with this and to allow the town to provide this service ourselves, not with an outside contractor, and to accommodate our residents.”
The amendments to the garbage ordinance were approved with a 4-1 vote with Councilman Harvell opposed.
Highlights of the ordinance include an increase in the monthly fee to $10; allowing a second container provided by the resident or obtained from the town at a one time cost.
A requirement that all refuse or litter must be placed in an authorized public or private receptacles and properly disposed of as requird by law.
Garbage must be placed at the front curb or near the road by 7 a.m on collection days.
All garbage must be bagged and placed in an approved receptacle.
After collection, garbage receptacles must be moved to the side or rear of a structure within 48 hours.
No garbage shall be placed outside of a receptacle.
The town will provide one approved garbage receptacle. An additional receptacle can be made available.
Responsibility for replacement cost of damaged containers provided by the town will be decided based on whether damage was due to negligence by the resident or not.
Businesses have certain requirements including being required to place signs conveying to customers a request that they use designated receptacles for the disposal of waste material.
Council unanimously approved second reading on an ordinance to recover the cost of housing juvenile offenders.
Council approved second reading on an ordinance related to damage of utilities.
Council approved first reading on a new temporary business license for vendors at festivals and events. The new license fee will be $20 for a one day business license.
Attorney Lee Cole said the one day license provides an alternative to basing the business license fee on gross sales as a standard business license and provides a limit of no more than $2000 per day.
Council approved increasing the garbage collection fee from $7 to $10. The vote was 4-1 with Harvell opposed. The change also increased the fee for customers outside the town limits to $15 per month.
Council approved a resolution stating new guidelines for Mineral Spring Park. Town Attorney Lee Cole said the resolution condenses working from numerous rules and signs that were posted in the park and states the park is under the jurisdiction of the police department. The ordinance addresses a variety of rules including smoking, fireworks, animals and park hours. Park hours were extended to 5 a.m – 11 p.m.
A resolution for the Anderson County Transportation Committee was tabled at the advice of the town attorney who stated it is not needed at this time.