UNION — A decrease in projected expenses in its Utility Fund means that the City of Union’s combined municipal budget for fiscal 2017-2018 will be smaller than its current budget.
During its June meeting Tuesday evening, Union City Council vote 6-1 with Councilwoman Vicky Morgan opposed, to approve second reading of the ordinance setting the 2018-2018 municipal budget.
In recommending passage of second reading of the ordinance, Finance Director Laura Hembree made the following points about the proposed budget:
• The budget totals $44,907,650, a 2.3 percent decrease from the current 2017-2018 budget.
• General Fund revenues are projected to total $5,641,860 while expenditures are projected to total $6,264,240 — including $315,900 in capital equipment and improvements — for a projected deficit of $622,380 which will be covered with fund balance. No tax or fee increases are proposed for the General Fund and taxpayers will receive a credit against their property taxes due to Local Option Sales Tax revenue.
• The Solid Waste Management Fund budget totals $784,510, an increase of 2.6 percent. No fee increase is included in the budget, however.
• Utility Fund expenses are project to total $37,085,300 — including $477,000 for capital equipment and $3,522,430 for infrastructure — a decrease of 3.6 percent from the current budget. Project revenues, however, total only $35,603,06 leaving a projected deficit of $1,482,240 which will be covered with retained earnings. While the budget not include increases in electric and natural gas rates, the PPA and the PGA will continue to true up the monthly cost of power and gas, respectively. There will, however, be a 2.5 percent increase in water rates and a 2.5 percent increase in sewer rates.
• A proposed 2.6 percent cost of living raise for city employees.
The budget also includes the following special revenue funds and budgeted amounts for each:
• Local Hospitality and Accommodations — $430,000
• Main Street Junction — $116,600
• Economic Development Fund — $100,000
• Drug Fund — $7,000
• Community Change — $30,000
• Debt Service-Tax Increment — $90,000
In a related matter, council voted unanimously to approve second reading of the ordinance setting the 2018-2019 municipal property tax millage at 86.8 mills, leaving it unchanged from the current fiscal year.
In other business, council also voted unanimously to award the bid for wastewater system improvements to J.L. Construction Co. for $1,199,800.
City of Utility Director Joe Nichols recommended the bid be awarded, pointing out in his report to council that the company’s bid was the lowest of the five bids his department received for the project.
The project involves upgrades to the Meansville Road Pump Station and by-pass pumping ($596,240) and force main upgrades ($603,560).
Council’s awarding of the bid to J.L. Construction Co. must now be approved by the SC Rural Infrastructure Authority.
Council also voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a resolution authorizing the allocation of $347,545 in local funds as a match for the Monarch Mill Area Sewer Upgrade project.
In her report recommending passage of the resolution, Kimberly Herndon of the Catawba Regional Council of Governments pointed out that council voted in March 29 pass a resolution authorizing a local match of $350,000 and any additional funds required for the completion of the upgrade. Herndon stated that the cost of the upgrade had initially been estimated at $844,545, but is now estimated at $847,545. She stated that the SC Department of Commerce is requiring that the city’s resolution for the local match be exact thus requiring the new resolution.
As a result, Herndon said that under the new resolution the city agrees to provide $347,545 in local matching funds and any additional funds required to complete the upgrade.
The resolution states that Union County intends to apply for $500,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding through the Community Infrastructure Program that will be used to assist the city in paying for the costs involved in the upgrade. It states the upgrade will include the construction of 3,582 linear feet of 8-inch sewer line and 19 manholes in the Monarch Mill area. It further states that the upgrade will serve an estimated 64 residences and three churches.
Council also voted unanimously to authorize the city to enter into a settlement agreement with OVA Properties, LLC.
The report recommending the settlement agreement, which was prepared by C.D. Rhodes and Larry Flynt of the Pope Zeigler Law Firm, states that OVA applied for a building permit to built three duplexes. It states that the plans submitted did not provide sufficient details to determine the ultimate use of the structures required commercial building codes be applied. The report states the structures were approved and have been substantially completed.
The report states the city is now aware and had made OVA aware that the buildings should have been equipped with sprinklers. It states the OVA is retrofitting the buildings with sprinklers at a total cost of $27,000.
The report states that in order to avoid litigation, the city intends to enter into an agreement where it will reimburse OVA for the cost of installing the sprinklers in exchange for the company releasing the city from all liability related to the matter.
Council also voted unanimously to approve second reading of an ordinance authorizing the appropriation of $20,700 from the 2017-2018 to fund the cost of mosquito control in the city.
In her report recommending passage of the second reading of the ordinance, Hembree stated that Tim Teague of Gregor Pest Solutions addressed council during it Dec. 19, 2017 meeting about the mosquito treatment contract. The contract would include several treatments over a seven-month period including placement of briquettes and the spraying of larvacide in the city.
Council subsequently authorized the mayor to enter into a contract with Gregory Pest Solutions for mosquito treatment throughout the city. Those treatments began in April and, according to Hembree, the first three treatments have cost the city $16,012. Hembree stated that the costs for the treatments for fiscal 2017-2018 total $20,693 with one more treatment scheduled this month (June).
“Light Up The Lake”
Council also voted unanimously to help sponsor “Light up the Lake,” the annual Independence Day celebration held at Veteran’s Park.
In her letter to the city requesting sponsorship, Union County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jami Trammell wrote that this year’s Light up the Lake will feature performances by “The Mighty Kicks” who she said “will take the stage at 7 p.m. playing a variety of music to please all crowds, young and old. There will be food vendors on site and at dark the much anticipated fireworks display will ensue. What an exciting time this is for all as we celebrate our freedom!”
Thompson, in his report to council, requested that it authorize the city to help sponsor the Light up the Lake 2018 Independence Day celebration.
Council authorized the city to be a “Red Sponsor” for $500. As a Red Sponsor the city will have a 12×24 yard sign advertising it positioned around the lake; exposure on all Union County Chamber of Commerce social media with city logo and link; podium recognition at Light up the Lake; and city logo and link on the chamber website.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.