Local ordinances amended to reflect federal law

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During their meeting Monday, Williamston Town Council approved two changes in ordinances dealing with collection of taxes on insurance premiums. Council approved first reading of an ordinance amending the town’s business license ordinance to reflect changes in federal law regarding insurance companies and non-admitted insurance brokers.

The changes were related the “Dodd-Frank” Act which makes non-admitted insurance subject to requirements of the insured’s home state and allows the state to require the payment of a premium tax. The SC Department of Insurance will collect the premium tax and the Municipal Association of SC will receive the funds and distribute back to the municipalities.

In response to the federal legislation, the state of SC recently passed a new 6 percent tax for brokers’ premiums. Four percent will go to the state and 2 percent to the municipality. Council also approved an agreement to allow the state Municipal Association to continue to collect all current and delinquent business license taxes due from insurance companies in the state. The agreement allows the municipal association a four percent collection fee on all funds collected.

Council also approved a proclamation to adopt the Municpal Association legislative priorities for 2012.

The three main priorities include finding solutions to dilapidated structures, securing a dependable revenue source and providing quality transportation and infrastructure maintenance.

During public concerns, Mayor Carthel Crout announced there will be a Veterans ceremony this Friday, Nov. 9 at 10:30 a.m. at the town’s veterans memorial.

Crout said plaques recognizing two veterans will hopefully be in place by then.

Councilman Mike Looper brought up an issue involving a response from the town attorney concerning two questions the attorney was asked to look into during the last meeting.

At the last meeting, Council approved a motion requesting the attorney to render an opinion on whether there is a nepotism situation at the town and whether a sewer contract is valid.

Looper also questioned whether the opinion from the attorney is public information.

Town Attorney Richard Thompson responded that he had sent an opinion on the two issues to each member of council and the mayor and that it was up to the council to agree to make it public.

“I represent the mayor and council, not the town or public,” Thompson said. “The council may have divergent opinions.”

He said the majority of council can decide whether to make the opinion public. He also said there is no particular violation that prevents it from being made public.

Looper said he had received a 43 page reply to his questions and that the response stated it was protected by attorney-client privilege. He also said that he had asked for the opinion in public and he expected it to be answered in public.

When asked by the mayor if he wanted an executive session to discuss the issue, Looper responded, “I don’t think it would do any good.”

During public comments, Pamela Owens, representing the Williamston Area Cemetery Committee requested an additional $200 for supplies for a candlelight service December 13 at 5 p.m. Owens asked Council to amend the agenda to vote on the funds.

Mayor Crout responded that due to a recent court decision in Saluda, SC involving the amending of agendas by municipalities, they could not do that.

He suggested that donations could make up the difference.

Pam Childress spoke about a problem she said she had with raw sewage backing up into her home. Mayor Crout said after the meeting that the town had made repairs to her house in connection with the problem.