UNION COUNTY — Tuesday evening was a busy time for Union County Council which approved more than $500,000 in expenditures for the purchase of new lawn mowers, new roofs, and records management software; funding a facilities corporation; and a “bridge loan” and other funding related to the Union County Carnegie Library.
During its August meeting Tuesday evening, council voted unanimously to approve resolution authorizing the county to make the $300,000 bridge loan to the library to help cover the cost of the ongoing renovation, restoration, and upgrade of the library.
In May, council voted unanimously to make the bridge loan which had been requested by Library Director Rieta Drinkwine who said it would help facilitate the ongoing renovation of the library. Drinkwine said the loan is needed in order to complete the $2.1 million renovation of the library and qualify it to obtain historic tax credits. She said that the library cannot apply for the credits until the renovation is completed.
The library has raised $1.8 million for the project including a $1.25 million allocation from the State Lottery Fund secured by the Union County Legislative Delegation. Drinkwine said that the bridge loan will cover the balance of the cost of the renovation. Once that is done, the library will be able to apply for the historic tax credits and be able to reimburse the county for the bridge loan.
Council has also voted to authorize the lease of the Union County Carnegie Library — which the ordinance states is owned by the county — to the Union County Library Historic Tax Credit Partnership, LLC. The lease agreement is designed to enable the library to apply for the historic tax credits.
Located at 318 East South Street, Union, the Union County Carnegie Library has been closed since Nov. 30, 2017 when a groundbreaking ceremony kicked off the long-planned and long-anticipated renovation project. The project is nearing completion and, in a statement released Aug. 8, Union Library System Assistant Director Taylor Atkinson announced that plans are for the Carnegie Library to reopen on Saturday, Sept. 8. Atkinson said that a ribbon-cutting ceremony formally reopening the library will be held that day at 2 p.m. She said that Marjory Wentworth, Poet Laureate of South Carolina, will be the keynote speaker.
Lease And Utility Payment
In a related matter, council also voted to authorize the payment of up to $3,700 from the county’s Contingency Fund to settle the final lease and utility payments for the old Graham Cash building at 127 East Main Street in downtown Union for the time during which the library was located there.
After closing its doors on Nov. 30, 2017, the library initially relocated to the old Graham Cash building with plans to operate out of there until the renovations were complete. It reopened at that location on Jan. 3 of this year, but was forced to close and relocate again on Jan. 4 when a sprinkler froze, ruptured, and flooded the building.
Council also voted unanimously to authorize the issuance of a check to the library for the funds the county received for the insurance claim for the damage to the library’s property when the sprinkler system in the Graham Cash building burst. The claim was for approximately $26,000 and the entire amount will be paid to the library.
In other business, council voted unanimously to approve a request from Union County Supervisor Frank Hart that the county allocate funds from its Multi-County Industrial Park Fund and Capital Expenditures Fund to make a down payment on the new Zuercher IT system for the Union County Sheriff’s Office, Union County Jail, and Union County Detention Center.
The action comes just one month after council at its June meeting authorized Hart to sign a commitment for a lease-purchase agreement with Zuercher Technologies for records management software for the Sheriff’s Office, the jail and the detention center.
In presenting the proposal to council, Hart said the county is already doing business with Zuercher which is providing service to the county’s 911 communications related to CAD (Computer Aided Dispatch). He said that Sheriff David Taylor had proposed several months back that the county look at Zuercher providing record management services for the Sheriff’s Office as well as the jail.
Hart said that new system would give the Sheriff’s Office better control over its records and case files, evidence and seized property as well as providing for improved record management at our jail and detention center. He said it would also make it easier and more efficient for deputies to fill out incident in their patrol cars and file them electronically, thus enabling them to get back to patrolling and respond to calls more quickly. It would also allow law enforcement personnel to share information, especially case files which can help solve cases.
The system will also, Hart said, provide improved accountability and control of finances and will support efforts to improve internal financial controls throughout the county.
During the June meeting, Hart said that Zuercher had agreed that, if the county signed a commitment to purchase agreement now, it would give the county a 10 percent discount on the software. Hart said this would reduce the price of the software itself to $198,000. He said that installing the software would also require upgrading the county’s routers and data infrastructure which would cost $50,000 bringing the total cost to approximately $250,000.
The motion approved by council allocates $85,000 from the Multi-County Industrial Park Fund with the balance of the cost of the system coming from the Capital Expenditures Fund. Once the lease purchase agreement is signed, those accounts would reimbursed.
In other business, council voted unanimously to approve a request presented by Union County Airport and Stadium Director Ronnie Wade for the purchase of lawn mowers for the Timken Sports Complex and the Union County Recreation Department.
The vote authorized the allocation of a total of $27,217.08 for the purchase of the lawnmowers. The funds for the purchase of the lawnmowers will come out of the existing Sports Complex and Recreation Department budgets.
Council also voted unanimously to approve a request from Building Superintendent Kenny West for the replacement of roofs at the Union County Jail and Clemson Extension Building.
The vote authorized the replacement of the roof over the women’s section of the jail by Guy Roofing for not more than $47,000.
It authorized the replacement of the roof of the extension building by Roof Options for $34,737.
The funds for both projects will come from the county’s Capital Expenditures Account.
Council also voted unanimously to allocate $20,000 from the county’s Economic Development Fund to the Union County Facilities Corporation.
Hart said that the Facilities Corporation was established to enable the county to partner with Lockhart Power for the development of the county spec building. He said the purpose of the Facilities Corporation is to promote economic development in Union County and that is what the funds allotted by council will be used for.
Council also voted unanimously to authorize the county to enter into a cooperative agreement with the US Forest Service regarding road improvements. Under the agreements, all roads in Union County serving US Forest Service property would be listed as such allowing the county to receive funds to maintain those roads.
Council also voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a request by Union County Auditor Brad Valentine that he be allowed to fill a clerk’s position in his office.
Industrial Park Expansion
On the economic development front, council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve third and final reading of an ordinance authorizing the expansion of the Wingo Joint County Industrial Park in Spartanburg County. The park is being expanded to include the property owned/operated by Auriga Polymers Inc., located at 1540 Dewberry Road and consisting of approximately 384.335 acres. As with their other multi-county park agreements, Union County will share with Spartanburg County the revenues generated by the property following its inclusion in the industrial park.
Council also voted unanimously Tuesday to approve an ordinance authorizing the sale of county-owned property at 225 South Street, Buffalo, to Buffalo resident James Rose.
At its July meeting, council vote to sell the property to rose for $510.
The property at 225 South Street is one of three county-owned parcels of land in Buffalo put up for sale by the county, but during the July meeting, Councilman Ben Ivey said that the only offer the county received was from Rose for the property at 225 South Street. Ivey said the other two properties, located at 218 South Street, Buffalo, and 110 Chestnut Street, Buffalo, would be put up for sale again along with some other county-owned property.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.