Bennettsville City Council took the first step toward securing $855,000 that will be used for several capital projects, including the purchase of two new fire trucks, during its monthly meeting Tuesday.
The council gave first reading approval of an ordinance authorizing the issuance of $855,000 in general obligation bonds. This will require an additional nine-mills in debt service millage, which was factored into the 2014-15 budget.
The funding will allow the city to proceed with several projects previously approved by city council in its five-year capital plan.
The largest of these is the purchase of two pumper fire trucks at a cost of $720,000.
Other projects included in the plan are:
-replacement of the Community Center roof - $40,000
-replacement of city street signs - $45,000
-City Hall rear area walkway improvements - $30,000
There is also a $20,000 service cost, bringing the total bond issue to $855,000.
City Administrator Max Alderman said he was able to fine-tune the numbers and add the $30,000 expenditure for rear walkway improvements at City Hall without impacting the previously approved millage.
With improvements to the front walkway set to begin in the next few weeks, he said he believed council members would be so pleased with the results that they would want to continue the process at the rear of City Hall as well.
Lease purchase funds
The council approved the purchase of two vehicles and fitness equipment using funds that remain unspent from a $1,652,000 lease purchase the city secured in 2011.
The amount available is $60,522.24. From that, the city will buy a Ford F150 pickup for the public works department for $26,164 and a Ford cargo van for the utility billing department for $20,704, and replace fitness center equipment at an estimated cost of $10,000.
That same 2011 lease purchase is providing $75,000 to the police department that will serve as the local match for a $50,000 grant from USDA Rural Development to buy new vehicles.
This had been part of the original lease purchase plan. On Tuesday, the council approved a letter of conditions required by USDA Rural Development in order to award the grant.
In addition, the council authorized Police Chief Larry McNeil to pursue a Justice Assistance Grant (JAG).
After an executive session discussion on the matter, the council returned to open session and approved a recommendation made by the city's auditors to transfer the business license operator from the planning department to the finance department.
The council also approved a change that will have the utility manager report directly to Alderman, who serves as the city's utility director in addition to being administrator. Previously, all managers reported to the assistant administrator.
The council recognized the following employees who noted 10 years of service to the city in May: Rebecca Bostick, administration; Wade Cheves, fire; Clemon Parker, public works; and Morris Patrick Smith, recreation.
In addition, these employees were recognized for their years of service: Don Galloway, public works, 14 years; William Kell Hall, police, nine years; Tim Hood, police, 12 years; Julian Kimrey, wastewater, six years; James Rogers, water treatment, 24 years.
Carla Bryant returned to city hall to ask what had been done to address her concerns about the Firestone area since she first voiced them in March. Specifically, she said there are overhanging limbs that need to be cut in addition to potholes in the streets, abandoned houses and standing water.
Alderman said that after she appeared before the council the first time, he had the appropriate department heads visit the area to see what needed to be done, and they had started working to address the issues.
In other business, the city council:
-gave second reading approval to a code amendment related to non-conforming uses of properties in the city limits. The code has to do with the discontinuance of non-conforming uses, which may be done if the property in question has been vacant or unused for 120 days. The change adds a provision that non-conforming uses may be discontinued if the property does not have utilities.
-gave first reading approval to a code amendment related to animals running at large. The change corrects previous wording which "excluded" dogs from the list of animals not allowed to run at large, instead making it "include" dogs.