West Pelzer Council approves TAN note to cover expenses

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Can borrow up to $60,000 if needed

By Stan Welch

West Pelzer Town Council approved the second consecutive Tax Anticipation Note (TAN) employed by the town Monday night. The financial tool, used to help municipalities manage their frequent cash flow problems, is a means of borrowing against anticipated tax revenues.

The town first utilized the method last year, because the manner in which they receive tax revenues makes it difficult during certain parts of the year to meet the operational costs of running the government.

This year’s TAN was approved with the identical conditions and requirements that were in place last year. The issuance of the note will allow the town to access up to $60,000 to handle operational costs, if necessary.

In an interesting juxtaposition, Mayor Peggy Paxton voted against the measure, despite her support for it last year. She referred to the town’s projected budget surplus of $160,000 in arguing that the measure is not necessary this year.

Councilman Jimmy Jeanes, the TAN’s strongest opponent last year, both argued and voted for it this time.

Council, absent member Blake Sanders, also gave first reading approval to a budget amendment authorizing the expenditure of up to $1,000 in order to provide legal assistance to indigent people facing potential incarceration as a result of a municipal trial.

A budget proviso approved by the General Assembly earlier this year requires each municipality to contract, either with a private firm or with the appropriate public defender’s office, to provide free legal assistance to any qualified defendants appearing in municipal courts.

The requirement would only apply to cases where the defendant faces possible incarceration if found guilty. Hervery Young, the current public defender for the 10thJudicial Circuit, has presented a proposal that would establish each town’s share of the burden based on the percentage of population that they represent. The total cost of the program, which as a proviso is essentially a one year trial run, will be fifty thousand dollars for the entire county.

Councilman Jimmy Jeanes raised the question of allowing budgeted funds to be used to pay for Council members to attend meetings of the Municipal Association as well as other local gatherings of various municipalities’ officials and representatives.

He has questioned that practice in the past, but conceded Monday night that he had changed his mind.

“I think that these meetings are an opportunity to hear from other people facing a lot of the same things we are. I have gotten some real good ideas and information during my time on council, and I think we should encourage everyone who can to attend these whenever they can.”

The Council then spent some time discussing what to do about members who reserve a spot at these meetings, which almost always include a meal, and then fail to appear, leaving the town to pay for the spot anyway.

After considerable discussion which included the mayor’s suggestion to take the cost out of the offending member’s monthly paycheck, which was nixed by the town attorney, the council decided basically to trust each other’s promise to pay the cost for unattended meetings.

Town Clerk Paula Payton told the Journal that only one person has picked up the form to file for the coming election for either the mayor’s seat, or those held by Blake Sanders and Donnie Jeanes. The forms must be returned by book closing August 20.