By Stan Welch
Pelzer Mayor Roger Scott, in a conversation with The Journal before Tuesday night’s Council meeting, confirmed ongoing discussions between Pelzer and Williamston concerning a number of issues, including the operation of the town’s water and sewer systems.
“Those things have been talked about, but we have reached no agreement. I hear talk that we have a deal with Williamston, but that is not true. We are exploring a number of possibilities. I would concede that we backed off from our arrangement with West Pelzer because we thought Williamston has more to offer us. I am committed to whatever is best for Pelzer.”
Scott said he had spoken with West Pelzer Mayor Blake Sanders recently as well. “Both my Council and I are open to a variety of options. Again, we work together well, and we are all concerned with doing the best thing for our town.”
Sanders told the Journal that West Pelzer has prepared a budget that does not include any involvement by Pelzer. “I have met with Mayor Scott and he is noncommittal about the future of any potential partnership with West Pelzer,” Sanders said.
Sanders said that a decision by Pelzer to withdraw from the cooperative public works arrangement would reduce West Pelzer’s revenues by fifty thousand dollars, and lead to the employment of one less public works employee.
Last year, under then Mayor Steve McGregor and a significantly different Council, the town began moving into a merging of public works operations with West Pelzer. The town of Pelzer even relocated its town clerk’s office to the newly renovated West Pelzer municipal center, where it issued water bills and received payment.
Following the municipal election, which saw McGregor decline to seek reelection, and which saw the defeat of Council members Kimberly Wilson and Will Ragland, that movement toward cooperation came off the tracks. Town Clerk Heather Holcombe resigned mid year last year and West Pelzer Clerk of Court Shane Black assumed those duties. When the new council took office, he too resigned, and former Pelzer Councilwoman Cheryl Boudreau was hired as town clerk.
The next step in the retreat from the cooperative stance between the two towns was the relocation of Pelzer’s town offices to the prior town hall. Scott stated Tuesday that the town council is open to any number of options. “We might even hire some of our own public works people back,” said Scott.