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– By Tiffani Ireland –
The Edgefield County Council passed, in an amended form, the 2013-2014 budget at their regularly scheduled monthly meeting, Mon., Apr. 6. (While the vote was unanimous it did not include Councilman Norman Dorn’s vote as he was absent from the meeting.) Prior to its second reading, a public hearing was held to discuss the current budget and the 2013-2014 budget which will take effect July, 1. However, there was no public comment on either issue. As such, the second reading to provide revised revenues and appropriations to the current budget was also approved unanimously.
Council again utilized the Consent Agenda to expedite business, voting unanimously for two board appointments, for a resolution designating the week of May 19-25, 2013, as Emergency Medical Services Week, and for renewing an annual contract with McCormick County for joint utilization of Edgefield County’s Convenience Center located on Hwy 378.
Council gave approval for County Attorney Michael Medlock to proceed with filing an appeal in the legal matter of Edgefield County Assessor v. K&H Development Co. Mr. Medlock maintains the developer incorrectly received a multi-lot discount when it purchased property at Mount Vintage. The developer has won a legal ruling in this matter already, but Attorney Medlock explained that a new law regarding multi-lot discounts was wrongly applied to this case as it should fall under the old law. His position is that this retroaction is illegal and believes the county can prove this in an appeal. When questioned as to the impact to the county in regards to this matter, Mr. Mike Reed estimated that “three quarters of a million dollars difference in tax dollars” was at stake if the ruling stands. Mr. Medlock called the cost associated with pursuing this matter “minimal,” adding the county has already paid a $100 fee filing for this case. In the end, Council voted 3-1 to support this measure. Councilman Rodney Ashcraft was the dissenting vote, citing possible long term negative impacts to the county, especially should K&H Developers default on the property in the future.
Council gave first reading to an ordinance that will extend the Highway Overlay District. The initial recommendation on this expansion came from the Planning Commission, who advised Council to extend the overlay by including Hwy 25 South from the Aiken County line to the beginning of the two-lane near Bondex. However, citing a desire to protect land owners, Chairman Dean Campbell recommended that the overlay be extended even further to Greenhouse Rd. When questioned as to why the Planning Commission did not recommend the extension go as far as Greenhouse Rd., Admin. Strom stated the commission declined to propose any additional expansion because they did not anticipate growth going that far that fast. She added it was the commission’s stance that it is easier to add to the overlay than to detract from it. In a vote to approval the overlay as proposed, the measure passed unanimously. However, a second vote, to extend the overlay to Greenhouse Rd., passed in a 3-1 vote. Councilwoman Betty Butler voted negatively.
Council was all in agreement to approve the first reading of an ordinance authorizing the issuance and sale of a General Obligation Bond not to exceed $1,200,000. The term of this bond will be 15 years and will not increase taxes. The bond will allow the county to pay off the principle of two outstanding bonds by using reserves in the Debt Service Fund and will fund renovations to the Kneece building (estimated to be $900,000 to $1,000,000) and address capital improvements to other county buildings. The interest rate on this bond is estimated to be less that 3%.
Administrator Strom clarified for Council the advertising policy related to open county jobs. According to advice Admin. Strom received from Attorney Medlock, there are no legal requirements for posting jobs. However, Admin. Strom said it has been the practice of the county to first post open positions within the county on the county’s bulletin board. If a position is not filled using this posting method, the position is then sent for outside advertising, usually within 2-3 different outside sources. Admin. Strom reminded Council that elected officials, such as the Sheriff and Clerk of Court, choose their own procedures, and the county has no authority in those matters.
Council did hear from two citizens regarding the possible location of the proposed animal shelter. Both women spoke against locating the shelter on Simmons Rd.
In her closing comments to Council, Admin. Strom advised that the county is looking to replace the tower currently being used by the county’s dispatch center. The center’s current 60 ft. tower was described as “rusting and in bad shape.” Admin. Strom informed Council that EMA Director Mike Casey was able to obtain an 80 ft. tower, and the only costs associated with this tower, which will be 100% covered using grant funds, will be for its erection.
Admin. Strom also informed Council that after two years of having received no payment from Aiken County as part of an agreement with Edgefield County in regards to the two counties’ industrial parks, a payment of $64,800 was received from Aiken County. Admin. Strom also said the county had expected to receive a 40% reimbursement for the new 911 center (which is now complete) but instead received a 70% reimbursement in the amount of $245,793.
Admin. Strom confirmed the relocation of the call center at Urban Outfitters to Columbia County in Georgia. However, she said the company’s distribution center will remain in Edgefield County and will utilize the space left vacant by the call center.
Before adjourning, Chairman Campbell thanked Council and staff for their hard work for the county. With no other business to discuss, Council adjourned.