Use of funds and property purchases top discussion for Pelzer Town Council

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During their meeting Tuesday, Pelzer Town Council addressed trash, streetlights, property purchases, renovation grants and fireworks.
Town Clerk Cheryl Beaudreau reported that 65 work orders were completed. There were 16 connections, 16 disconnections and 33 miscellaneous.
In the police reports, Beaudreau said there were 61 traffic stops, 148 contacts, 54 calls for service and 5 arrests.
Ryan Stack of GFL presented information about the new garbage pickup service changes. Stack said the changes are the result of dealing with COVID over the last two years and workers comp situations where GFL employees have been handling heavy items, bagged trash and personal containers, which are not compatible with their equipment. He said the changes to using only GFL containers is safer for their employees. “We want our customers to use our containers,” he said.
Beginning April 1, GFL will only pick up trash in their containers.
Stack said a second cart will be available from GFL for a discounted price of $5 per month. The additional charge will be billed directly to the customer and will not be on the town’s utility bill.
Stack said GFL customers normally pay $15 per month for their service and are charged $9 for a second container. Pelzer residents pay a discounted rate of $8.50 per month and only $5 for a second container if they want one.
During the business portion of the meeting, Council unanimously agreed to annex the newer Church of God cemetery into the town limits. Mayor Will Ragland said the annexation will allow the extra police coverage to the area and help with vandalism at the cemetery. He also said the property is adjacent to a larger piece of property the town is purchasing and will allow annexation of that property. The town will not be responsible for upkeep of the cemetery, he said.
Discussion on the proposed purchase of .31 acres of property at the corner of Fuller Street and Smythe Street led to a broader discussion about use of town funds.
Mayor Ragland proposed purchasing the property for the listed market value of $3,500. He said the property has a creek on it and at one time, an old bridge to the upper mill.
During discussion, Councilwoman Donna Ide said the property is a “big overgrown ditch” and proposed a freeze on the purchase of new property by the town.
Ragland said he is looking to the future of the town and that the property, which is adjacent to the upper mill property, could be an entrance to a potential trail system.
“I think it is a good idea to purchase property in Pelzer when the opportunity arises, to invest in the town.” Ragland said there is interest in Pelzer which will lead to growth and development. “Land will be very important to the Town of Pelzer.”
Council voted 2-3, not to purchase the property. Councilmembers Eddie Waits, Mike Matthews and Ide were opposed. The mayor and Councilwoman Alisha Tuttle were in favor.
Before the vote was taken, there was considerable discussion about upkeep and renovation of the Community Building and the old Hospital building.
Ragland said the town has just over $572,000 available from the cell tower property sale which could be used for renovation, but that the money could be better used as a match for grants. He said he is applying for historic tax credits and SCPARD grants for renovation of the community building and the old hospital building and that the funds the town has can be used for the required match for the grant(s).
Ragland also pointed out that the town is planning to turn the sewer system over to REWA soon and there will be additional money available. The Mayor said, “It is smart to match that money with other grant funding. It is a matter of how to use that money to get more money.”
In other business, Ragland reported 27 new street lights will be installed in Pelzer. Lyman Street will get 14 new lights, Murray Street will get 1, Law Street will get 1, McCaughrin Street will get 9 and Beattie Street will get 2. Total cost for the new street lights, which will be placed on existing poles, will be $278.66 per month.
Council also discussed creating a new lot behind 6 Hale Street, so that it could be sold. The lot is adjacent to the back yard of Councilmember Donna Ide, and Ide has expressed an interest in purchasing it from the town. Mayor Ragland said he didn’t see the town having any use for the lot. There was discussion about a price and survey. Council decided to revisit the issue at a later date.
Council decided not to appropriate $3,000 to the Pelzer Heritage Commission for fireworks for July 4th. Mayor Ragland and Councilwoman Tuttle were in favor. Councilmembers Waits, Matthew and Ide were opposed. The PHC sponsored fireworks last year on their mill property, which drew a large crowd.
Council unanimously approved $3,500 for the town’s official Freedom Fest celebration to be held on July 2.
Council agreed to allow the mayor to sell a used Kubota tractor. The tractor is 22 years old and is currently not in working order. Ragland said it would cost $11,848 to replace the engine or $63,000 for a new tractor. He said the new excavator the town recently purchased is their primary piece of equipment and the Kubota was being used as a backup.
The town’s planning commission is currently one person short due to Donna Ide having to resign because she is now a councilmember. Randall Tuttle was nominated for the position by Mayor Ragland. In the vote, Councilmember Waits, Matthews and Ide were opposed. Mayor Ragland was in favor, Councilmember Tuttle abstained from the vote.
Council went into executive session for about 30 minutes to discuss a legal matter. Upon returning to open session, Council unanimously agreed to add eminent domain attorney Jim Logan as legal council in their use of “eminent domain” to obtain the former pool property.