Budget approved without Main St. SC program

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By David Meade

Williamston Town Council unanimously approved first reading on their 2013-14 budget Monday, but without funding for an economic development program and coordinator.

The budget projects revenues of $2,258,704 to expenses of $2,258,704.

A motion by Mayor Mack Durham to pass the budget as presented with $78,043 for a coordinator and other expenses for the proposed Main St. SC revitalization program was defeated by a 1-4 vote with only the mayor in favor. A motion by Councilman Otis Scott to pass the budget on first reading taking out the funding for the program passed unanimously.

During discussion, Councilman Rockey Burgess asked if the funding budgeted for the program could be placed in contingency for later approval if details of the program could be worked out.

Town Attorney Richard Thompson said the item could be revisited with a budget amendment.

Leading up to the vote, the mayor presented information about the town’s finances and budget highlights.

Durham’s presentation was generally the same one presented to council during a recent work session with a few changes.

According to information presented by Durham, the changes he has made during his first four months in office will save the town $585,329 in the upcoming year.

Those changes include: defunding the Adminstrator position saving $70,539 annually; eliminating a public works position saving $64,790: transfer of the police department dispatch saving $200,000; police department budget reduction of $150,000 and changes in the Clearwater WWTP contract saving $100,000.

Durham said the financial victories achieved were mainly by tightening up operations and decreasing the police budget.

The presentation also included comments about council working for the good of the town and Durham said they were “getting to know each other and being proactive to accomplish good things.”

The savings presented in the new budget allow for funding of the revitalization program the mayor would like to see the town involved in.

The Main St. SC program is offered through the State Municipal Association and will cost the town approximately $78,000 including start up costs and a paid coordinator.

Durham said the program offers a proven community revitalization plan.

After some discussion on the Main St. program, and other issues including use of smart phones and other funding in the budget, Council unanimously approved first reading on the budget without the funding for the program.