During their meeting Monday, Williamston Town Council approved first reading on the $3.3 million 2021-22 budget. Millage will remain the same at 112.5 mills, with no tax increase.
Highlights of the new budget include a 1.5 percent across the board salary increase for town employees, some adjustments to the Hospitality Tax fund budget and the Envision Williamston Main Street Budget being cut in half, to $35,000.
Williamston Mayor Rockey Burgess said the budget initially had a $60,000 deficit, which was made up without cutting any services and with no tax increase. The budget includes a 1.5 percent across the board raise for town employees. “We worked hard on the budget,” he said. It is a balanced budget that meets the needs of the town.”
“Each year expenses continue to rise and we are faced with difficult challenges.” Burgess said he remains hopeful “that new economic development will help stimulate the local economy and provide more revenue which can be used for operations.”
Before approving the budget, Councilman Lee Cole asked that the budget be amended so that any line item transfer the mayor will need to notify council and no line item be increase by more that $10,000 with out the approval of council. Cole also requested an amendment reflecting the line item for the town attorney be changed from $24,000 to $29,000 to reflect a permanent attorney salary be set at $12,000 plus benefits which amount to the $29,000. The $5000 difference will come from the town’s fund balance.
The 2020-21 budget was approved unanimously with all three amendments.
Council also approved a resolution to extend the business license due date to April 30, 2022. The 2022 Model business license ordinance brings the town into compliance with a new SC Business License Standardization ACT 176 recently passed by the SC General Assembly. The towns’ current business license due date is March 1 each year.
Council approved a request by the mayor to re-roof the municipal center building at a cost of approximately $200,000. Mayor Burgess said that some shingles were missing and there are several leaks when it rains. The town’s insurance company declined full coverage on the re-roof but did allow $30,000 to reimburse for inside damages.
Funding for the improvement will come from the town’s General Fund Balance which is currently approximately $1.8 million.
Council unanimously approved rezoning a small parcel of property located behind Town Square Center for full core commercial.
Council officially appointed Rahm Campbell as the town attorney. Councilman Cole made a motion to designate the position as a town employee with annual salary of $12,000 plus benefits. The change is reflected in the new budget.
Council also approved a resolution regarding a SCDOT recommendation to close Gossett Drive.
The Anderson County Legislative Delegation recently met with SCDOT officials about the problem of trucks striking the G&WRR overpass over Gossett Drive. One of the recommendations that came from the meeting was to close the street. Mayor Burgess stated he was opposed to the recommendation and presented the resolution, which states the town is opposed to the idea, to council. The resolution was unanimously approved by council.
Council then went into executive session with two people representing a potential developer to discuss economic development in the town. Upon returning to open session about 20 minutes later, Burgess stated no action was taken in executive session.
During Council comments, Councilman Cole mentioned that the new budget has no tax increase.
Mayor Burgess said “We try to do the best we can to live within our means. We do the best we can to provide a level of service that is exceptional.”