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By Chris Gregory, Managing Editor

Members of the County Commission voted to implement the mayor’s budget proposal during a pair of meetings earlier this week.

On Monday night, commissioners voted 18-1 in favor of the 2018-19 budget, which contains over $700,000 in additional spending and includes raises for county employees and the sheriff’s department. The budget also includes two new school resource officers for the middle and elementary schools.

Gary Claridy was the lone commissioner to vote against the budget. Commissioner Don Coker was not present Monday.

“I just think it’s too much money being spent here at one time,” Claridy said after Monday’s meeting. “We’ve got over $700,000 this year and a half-million (of that) recurring every year. Where do we stop?”

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com

The vote at a called meeting Tuesday was 17-1 in favor of the budget, again with Claridy the lone no vote. Coker and Amber Russell were absent Tuesday.

Commissioners unanimously passed the proposed tax levies, which are not changing from last year. The general tax rate is $2.93, while the Urban Services tax rate is $1.08.

A proposed increase in the impact fee for new construction also received unanimous commissioner support and will take effect July 1.

The impact fee will rise to a minimum of $1,500 (currently $1,000) or the greater of 70 cents per square foot for residential and 30 cents for commercial or industrial.

The monies from the impact fees are also redirected under the ordinance from Education Debt Service into the county’s general fund.

In his report to commissioners, County Mayor Carroll Carman said there had been 131 building permits issued in the 2017-18 fiscal year as of Monday evening.

Three zoning changes also passed on second reading:

  • A property on Fort Blount Road from A-1 to R-1;
  • The northern parcel of the old Texas Boot Factory property on Western Avenue (walking track area) from I-1 to R-1; and
  • A property on Highway 231 from A-1 to R-1.

Commissioners also approved an ordinance to change the makeup of the Water Board from five to six members.

Carman told The Vidette he intended to appoint Mark Beeler to the newly created seat. Beeler currently serves on the Water Board by virtue of his office as chairman of the County Commission but will drop from that position as he has opted not to seek re-election.

A resolution to increase commissioner pay received approval by an 18-1 vote, again with Claridy as the lone vote against. Beginning in September, when newly elected commissioners take office, they will earn $100 per meeting, $75 for the work session and $40 for each committee meeting. Members of the Beer Board, Planning Commission, Library Board and Board of Zoning Appeals will receive $30 per meeting.

A resolution authorizing a $250,000 loan for the purchase of a new tanker for the Volunteer Fire Department also received approval Monday.

Commissioners also approved a number of budget amendments, most of which were internal transfers within the 2017-18 budget. Four amendments were draw from various fund balances:

  • $23,500 from the general fund for additional costs in purchasing the Fire Department’s tanker, committee fees and medical examiner fees;
  • $86,150 from the school system’s food service to account for end-of-year cleanups and cost overages;
  • $33,000 for a truck for the Public Works Department; and
  • $7,000 from debt service for banking fees.

Commissioners also approved the appointments of Mary Beth Hoffman, Martha Jo Jewell and Grace Moreland to three-year terms on the Library Board, Thomas Harper for a four-year term on the Planning Commission, and Beeler to a 30-day appointment as interim fire chief.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.