West Pelzer Town Council approved first reading on the 2022-23 budget, annexation of property and an ordinance addressing annexation and sewer/water services.
Council also approved second reading on a Duke Franchise Agreement and amended the 2021-22 budget to reflect the receipt of $349,048 from Renewable Water (ReWa) for the purchase of the town’s sewer system and transfer/pump stations.
Duke Energy Representative Emily DeRoberts said the Duke Energy Franchise agreement is renewable every ten years and reflects a 5 percent fee on the gross energy bills within the municipality. The fee helps pay for public lighting within the town including Chapman Park, O’Dell Community Center and along Main Street.
Town Clerk/Administrator Paula Payton reported there were 15 work orders completed in April. Starting with the May billing, customers will see a slight difference in the billing descriptions. ReWa Collection now shows as ReWa – T&T (trunk and treatment). Customers will see no change in the service or rates, she said.
Payton said she has had no questions from customers about the change.
The Electronic Meter upgrade is complete. Payton advised that customers may see a change and/or increase in usage due to more accurate meter readings.
West Pelzer Police Chief Scott Stoller reported there were 9 reports written with one arrest for failure to stop. There were 24 tickets written with 19 warnings.
Stoller said that a community clean-up held April 30 went well with five volunteers including police officers, town staff and citizens assisting. Ten bags of trash were collected. The majority of the trash included cigarette components, especially from in front of downtown businesses. Chief Stoller said his officers will be on the lookout and go after persons who litter with cigarette butts. “Our town is not an ashtray,” he said.
Stoller said SC Highway Patrol is still working on the case involving a Hummer hitting poles along Main Street in West Pelzer. The vehicle was recovered in Union County and had been reported stolen in Spartanburg County. Stoller also said a new full time officer should be on the roster within two weeks.
Town employees were recognized and thanked for their service with a proclamation designating May as Employee Appreciation Month. West Pelzer employees include Paula Payton – Town Clerk/ Administrator; Dorothy Simpson – Clerk of Court; Michelle Driver – Billing Clerk; Jeff Pearson, Seth Blackwell – Public Service/Works; Scott Stoller – Chief of Police; Brandon Rogers – Police Lieutenant; Officers Doug Partain, Christine Cauthen and Mandy Tinsley.
Council unanimously approved the first reading on the 2022-23 budget which includes a three percent increase for all full time and permanent part-time town employees. It also reflects an increase in legal fees to $300 monthly retainer and a $250 hourly rate. A public hearing and second reading will be held at the next meeting of Council on June 21.
The new budget reflects a decrease in revenues and expenditures and ARPA and ReWa funding, according to Mayor Sanders. The reserve fund, which had approximately $120,000 now stands at approximately $700,000, Sanders said. He said 45 percent of the budget was for public works. The hospitality tax shows a 30 percent increase in revenue due to “local business doing extremely well.”
The budget also reflects some capital expenditures for the police department including new tazers, radar, uniforms, ammunition, finger print kits and other needs. Public works did not request anything new, he said.
There is no tax increase and the millage rate will remain at 94. The sanitation fee will see an increase.
The General Fund budget, which includes administration and operations and the police department is $652,388; the Public Works budget is $606,200. The hospitality tax fund shows an increase of $12,000, to $48,000.
Sanders said increase in hospitality tax revenues shows that the local restaurants are doing really well.
A full presentation of the $1.324 million budget will be made at the June meeting.
In other actions, Council approved first reading on an ordinance to annex 4.13 acres of property on Woodcock Rd. Payton said the property is owned by the Pelzer Heritage Commission and was part of just over 9 acre tract which included the Pine Lawn Cemetery. Mayor Sanders said West Pelzer worked with Pelzer officials to allow the annexation of the cemetery portion of the property into the municipal boundaries of Pelzer. A public hearing and second reading on the annexation will be held at the June meeting.
Council also approved first reading on an ordinance addressing annexation and water/sewer services. According to Sanders, the ordinance requires annexation of property outside the town, that is not on the water/sewer system, before service can be provided. It is not applicable to those properties outside the town that are already on the system unless the property is sold. The ordinance is related to sale of the sewer system to ReWa and Anderson County. The ReWa service area ends at Palmetto Road. A revision to clarify this will be added to the final ordinance.
Mayor Sanders said a new First Friday event featuring music and a movie will begin June 3. The event will include a stage with live entertainment on Hindman St. and a movie in Chapman Park. Additional dates will be July 1 and Aug. 5.
Projects being funded from the ARPA funds include streetscaping and string lights, landscaping and electronic water meter utility upgrades. A second round of funding will go toward public works facility, a recycle center and a utility vehicle for the police department, according to Mayor Sanders.