UNION — The Union City Council unanimously approved 12 items of business on Tuesday.
The first item approved at Tuesday’s meeting was the second reading of the city’s budget. The balanced budget totals $45,309,640 — a decrease of 2 percent below the previous fiscal year budget totals.
Mayor Harold Thompson said the main reason for the decrease is due to the projected decrease in wholesale purchase power cost and the projected increase in the cost of natural gas.
General Fund budgeted expenditures total $5,915,150 — a 4 percent increase from the previous fiscal year. State law limits the increases of property tax millage unless the government has a specific reason, and due to reassessment, the city will not raise taxes for fiscal year 2016. The city could increase property taxes by the CPI (Customer Price Index) and percentage growth in population in the amount of 1.22 mills, but will consider the increase for FY 2017.
Thompson also said the hospitality and accommodations fee has allowed council to appropriate funds for local tourism and tourism-related recreational events and projects, relieving some of the stress on the General Fund.
The Solid Waste Management Fund budget for FY 2015-2016 totals $784,230 — an 3 percent increase from the previous fiscal year. No capital equipment is proposed in the new budget or increase of monthly garbage fees.
The Utility Enterprise fund budget expenses total $36,285,070 — a 4 percent decrease from the previous fiscal year. Electric power cost is projected to decrease by 2.4 percent and natural gas commodity cost is projected to decrease by 12.61 percent. Thompson said state and federal mandates — as well as the loss of industrial base — continue to stress the water and sewer divisions. The city’s water division provides water to approximately 6,101 customers directly, as well as five water districts, and provides sewer service to approximately 4,887 customers.
Sewer Use Ordinance
The second item of business resulted in the approval of the second reading of a Sewer Use Ordinance amendment, subject to South Carolina DHEC’s final review. The city has revised its existing sewer use ordinance to comply with current EPA and DHEC regulations and mandates.
Another business item approved rezoning of a property at 103 Sardis Road — which is a hair salon at the intersection of U.S. 176 — and appropriate for A-2 Highway Commercial Zoning. The remaining three properties at 110, 120 and 126 Sardis Road are single-family residential homes and will be zoned as such.
Neighborhood Initiative Program
The fourth item of business was the approval of a resolution of a memorandum of understanding between the city and Catawba Regional Council of Governments and Catawba Regional Development Corporation. Catawba Regional COG has announced the award of $5.6 million of competitive funding from the South Carolina Housing Finance and Development Authority’s “Neighborhood Initiative Program” (NIP). Funds will be used to acquire, demolish and green blighted residential properties in Chester, Lancaster, Union and York counties. The Catawba Regional Development Corporation — a non-profit affiliate of the COG — will acquire and manage targeted properties through the demolition and greening process. Thompson said the funds are greatly needed in Union, and he believes once the process begins moving, it will move rapidly.
The next item of business authorizes the mayor to enter into the Victims Assistance Agreement with the County of Union. Both the city and county are compelled by the Victim’s Bill of Rights Act to provide certain victim and witness services.
“If the General Assembly decides we can use the money for anything outside these services — such as body cameras — we can,” Thompson said. “Right now, all the money goes to the county and they distribute it.”
Water Tank Cleaning
In other business, Utility Service Group was awarded the bid for cleaning and painting the 300,000-gallon Sonoco water storage tank. Four bids were received, and Utility Service Group’s bid of $145,000 was the lowest.
Council also awarded a bid to IPR Southeast, LLC, for sewer system improvements for rehabilitation of the May Street area. Five bids were received, and IPR Southeast’s bid of $379,456 was the lowest.
Another bid was awarded to I and E Specialties of Lexington for replacing the roof at the Tosch Creek WWTP Lab and office building. Two bids were received, and I and E Specialties’ bid of $34,222 was the lowest.
Council also voted to donate $500 to the WBCU and Holcombe Funeral Home Union County Pep Rally to celebrate a new school year with live entertainment, free food, t-shirts and give-aways. The event will be held from 5-8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 13, at the Union County Fairgrounds.
Council also decided to donate $1,000 from the Hospitality and Accommodations Tax funds to become a platinum sponsor of a Dixie Youth tournament beginning July 10 at Timken Sports Complex. The tournament is projected to bring 2,000 people into Union and contribute an estimated $700,000 impact on the local economy per event.