During their meeting Tuesday, Pelzer Town Council approved second reading on annexation of the (new) Pine Lawn Cemetery and sale of the town’s sewer system to ReWa.
Under the sale agreement, ReWa will pay the town $600,000 for the system and will take over all maintenance of the sewer lines and pump stations. The $2 million USDA grant/loan which was for recent upgrades, will also be paid off. The town will continue to read meters and bill for water and sewer services when ReWa takes over.
The Town of Pelzer began discussing the purchase of the town’s sewer system by ReWa in 2017 and negotiations have been underway since then.
Mayor Will Ragland said his goal is to lower utility bills and offer better service to the town residents. The Town will also be considering the sale of the water lines to Greenville Water soon.
Council also approved first reading on an ordinance to renew the Duke Energy Franchise Fee agreement. Under the new agreement, the rate will increase from three percent to five percent. According to Duke Energy representative Emily DeRoberts, the agreement is a ten year agreement and can be changed at anytime. The franchise fee currently brings approximately $36,000 to $37,000 in revenues to the town yearly. With the fee increase, the town will receive approximately $20,000 to $22,000 in additional revenue.
Since Pelzer has no taxes, it is one of the few options the town has for revenue to pay for services, including street lighting and police protection.
“Due to Act 388, there is no official property tax for Pelzer,” Mayor Ragland said. “We are bound by that and I don’t see it changing. We are looking at options. We still have to fund the town.”
Ragland said that with the sale of the sewer system to ReWa, the town will lose approximately $145,000 in revenue that sewer was providing. “We need to find sources to make up for this. We have to look long term,” he said.
When a citizen asked about less work for town employees due to the sale of the utilities, Ragland said that any cuts or changes would be a discussion for council. Council will be looking at the 2022-23 budget soon.
Ragland said town employees will still be doing the same amount of work, “it will just be different work.”
In a followup interview after the meeting, Ragland said, “We have ballfields and parks to think about and there will be new parks and trailsystems. There will be a lot of prep work for trails that town employees can do to save money.”
The mayor said he hopes the town can complete the sale of the water lines to Greenville Water in time to include the proceeds in the new budget. “I am excited about the sale of the water system,” he said. “There are a lot of expenses that can be cut. We are working on a list now.”
Ragland said with the sale of the sewer system, water system and available ARPA funds, he hopes long awaited work on two projects can begin. Those projects are restoring the Community Building, which will be rebranded as “Pelzer Hall”, and renovating and converting the old hospital building for a new Town Hall.
He said the town is planning to restore the Community Building to look the way it did originally and will replace windows, add a kitchen and restrooms and make the community building handicap accessible.
“Renting the community building will be another source of income. It will be an appealing venue to rent.”
Possible Future Town Hall/Offices
Converting the hospital building to a town hall will allow the town to have a new office space, a council chamber and a conference room. “Citizens will not have to go outside during an executive session,” he said. “The current town office can also be rented out to a business.”
In other action during the council meeting, Council approved a resolution for Textile Site Certification for Disposal Site West. The resolution states that the old mill dump site was a part of the textile operations. The certification is required for the developer of the River Cottages to receive textile credits from the state.
Council also approved new street lighting to be installed on Orr, Stevenson, Finley, Parker, Hampton, Connor, Stewart, Blythe and Frost Streets. Ragland said that residents had asked for more lighting to feel safer and it will help with identifying people caught on private security camera systems. He said the goal is to have street lighting on every single street in Pelzer. Ragland said he worked with council to determine which streets needed more lighting.
Council also went into executive session to interview candidates to serve on the municipal planning commission.