Williamston Town Council approves first reading on 2022-23 budget and rezones property


During their meeting Monday, Williamston Town Council approved first reading on the 2022-23 budget, rezoned property and recognized local boxing legend “Slammin’ Sammy” Horne. Council also heard update from Envision Williamston Executive Director Roberta Hamby.

Hamby said the recent Working On Williamston cleanup day was “a huge success” and she was very happy with the volunteers who came out to be a part of the event. (See separate story)

Hamby reported that Envision Williamston is seeking bids on concrete cornhole boards for the park and new “Hometown Hero” banners are in and will be up by May 21, which is Armed Forces Day. The banners will honor and feature local military people.
Hamby said Envision Williamston is also asking local businesses and organizations to sponsor a shelter in Mineral Spring Park.

Envision Williamston and Christina Ortiz State Farm Insurance will host a Cinco de Mayo event in the park this Thursday, May 5 from 6 pm to 9 pm. The event will include rides, food, drink, a band and a pinata, Hamby said.

Envision Williamston and the Williamston Police Department will also host a Jazz in June event from 6:30 to 8:30 pm on June 9 in the park. Jaime Wright will perform.
Williamston Police Chief Tony Taylor introduced two new Cadets, Whitney O’Connor and Jordan Smith.

Council unanimously approved a request to rezone nine tracts of property on Market Street from MFR Multi-Family Residential District to R7 Single Family Residential District. The nine tracts were also combined into three tracts. No one spoke at a public hearing which was supposed to be held during the meeting, but was not on the agenda.

Council approved a proclamation designating May 21 as Kids to Park Day.

Council recognized former Williamston boxer “Slammin’ Sammy” Horne for recently being officially inducted into the prestigious North and South Carolina Boxing Hall of Fame. The induction banquet was supposed to have taken place April 24, 2020, but was postponed due to COVID.

Town Council recognizes Sammy Horne
Williamston Town Council recognized “Slammin’ Sammy” Horne for being officially inducted into the North and South Carolina Boxing Hall of Fame. “Slammin’ Sammy” Horne, who in his own rights was a household name in the Williamston/Pelzer area in the late 1970s, was not only an outstanding boxer, but was known for his engaging personality outside the ring and being an extremely tough opponent inside the ring.

Council approved first reading on the 2022-23 budget. The draft budget was presented and approved with a deficit however Mayor Rockey Burgess said will it will be balanced budget when presented for second reading.

A draft budget discussed during a work session last week incorrectly showed a budget deficit of $440,000, but had been corrected. Mayor Burgess said the draft contained a typo in the calculations and with the correction, the deficit in the budget is actually $172,000.
“We have a lot to do now and before June,” Burgess said.

The mayor said the budget currently is based on 112.5 mills and he does not want to raise taxes, however he has requested information on revenues that a tax increase would provide, for council to consider, if an increase was made.

During the budget discussion, Burgess said the Anderson Regional Joint Water System (ARJWS), which provides water for Williamston, recently approved a 4.32 percent increase in their rates. He said Williamston’s representative David Rogers voted against the increase during a recent ARJWS budget meeting.
Burgess also said the ARJWS has had increases of at least 3 percent or more over the last three years and wanted a 6 percent increase for 2022-23.
“There has been a 13.75 percent increase on water purchased by the Town of Williamston which has been absorbed by the town,” Burgess said. With the latest increase, that amounts to 18.7 percent total which has not been passed on to Williamston water customers. “It is not sustainable in the long term,” he said.

Councilman Lee Cole said the town will not pass an unbalanced budget and he did not want a property tax increase. Cole said he was disappointed in the ARJWS and appreciated the Williamston representative voting against the latest increase. He agreed the town can’t keep absorbing those increases.

Mayor Burgess said he was also disappointed in the ARJWS increase. “We do what is in the best interest of the people we represent. This affects the low to moderate income people.”
Council approved first reading on the budget 4-1 with Councilman Tony Hagood opposed.
Mayor Burgess said the town will have a balanced budget upon final approval. A budget worksession with department heads is scheduled for 2 pm on May 18.

Council approved first reading to rezone several parcels of property located on Market Street, Mattison, Mooring Drive and Jehue St. from MFR to R-7. The zoning change was recommended by the town’s planning commission and will have a public hearing on second reading. Town Attorney Rame Campbell said the rezoning is part of a long term plan for what is coming to Williamston.

Council gave their approval to a final site plan for Saratoga Villages/Saratoga Oaks. a sixty-four lot residential development on Brock Lane. Mayor Burgess said the developers had met the requirements of the planning commission and that councilmembers also had input on it. There have been multiple renditions of the plan, which now includes green space, sidewalks and a trail system, according to Burgess. As part of the property deal with the developers, the town will receive $3,000 per lot as they are sold.
“It will be a beautiful subdivision and will incorporates a lot of our history in the name and location.” the mayor said.

Burgess updated Council on progress on the Pickleball Courts. The old asphalt was been milled and compacted back into the ground, to provide a base for the new courts. Paving is expected to begin soon. Burgess said the soil remediation may be less than the $90,000 approved for the project and asked council to allow him to use the left over funds for fencing that will be required around three perimeters of the courts. The concrete wall mural will provide a backstop for back side of the courts. Council approved the mayor’s request.

There was considerable discussion on town’s food truck ordinance, which Mayor Burgess said “has caused some problems” specifically with “town sanctioned events.”
Burgess said the intent of the ordinance was to address food trucks that set up regularly as opposed to food vendors who set up for a one or two day festival.
He said he would like to permit food vendors at a town sanctioned event to set up at an event provided they meet DHEC requirements and pay the town’s 2 percent hospitality tax as any other business would do.
The ordinance currently requires food (truck) vendors to have a SLED background check ($50), a $10 DHEC permit ($10), and a one day town business license ($20) or a yearly business license and to pay the town hospitality tax.
Mayor Burgess said he wants the ordinance review committee to look at the ordinance for possible revisions.