State GIS Coordinator of the South Carolina Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office (SCRFA), Adam DeMars presented the City of Newberry’s redistricting benchmark report to City Council on Tuesday.

DeMars noted a variance in excess of 10% between certain districts and noted the need to proceed with the redistricting process for the city’s district map. A public hearing was held following the presentation to receive input regarding identifying communities of interest as a component of redistricting in the city. No one spoke to identify communities of interest and the public hearing was closed.

Parks, Recreation and Tourism Director Scott Sawyer presented council with a Newberry Recreation Update to include future plans in upgrades to Wells Japanese Garden and Wise Street Park.

Sawyer said planning was underway for the future home of the Newberry Arts Center and that Create Newberry, the local arts non-profit organization, had been instrumental in getting consultants to canvas the community about desired programming. The responses and programs offered at the arts center will impact the future floorplan for the facility.

Due to a clause in the city’s financial policy, if at the end of a fiscal year, the minimum unassigned fund balance policy is not met, the city manager must submit a plan of corrective action to city council within six months of notification of the shortfall.

City Manager Matt DeWitt noted the unassigned fund balance was at 11.07%, compared to last year’s number of 11.14%, with the reason being the payback on the city’s fiber project. DeWitt’s recommendation was that the general fund needed to do everything it could to accelerate payback to the city’s utility system so that it could begin to rebuild unassigned savings, including possible use of ARP funds and unassigned economic development funds.

Financial Report

Matt Phillips of McKinley, Cooper & Co., LLC presented council with an overview of the FY2020-2021 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report. Phillips said the city’s financial statements were fairly stated in all material respects as of June 30, 2021. The audit format, Phillips said continues to reflect GASB Accounting Standards and that his firm would be issuing an unmodified opinion, which is the best opinion the city can receive.

Philips summarized the various funds for council and said that no material weaknesses or instances of noncompliance were noted.

Mayor Foster Senn asked Phillips what they were seeing in other municipalities with the pandemic to which he replied they had not seen large deviations and that most were doing well.

A public hearing was held for the purpose of receiving comments concerning amending a zoning ordinance to remove the prohibition of illumination of digital signs from 11 p.m. until sunrise. With no comments made for/against the ordinance, the public hearing was closed.

An additional public hearing was held to assign a zoning classification and amend the zoning and future land use map for a parcel located at 1407 Chapman Drive. With no one speaking in favor or opposition, the public hearing was closed.

Under public comment, Giacomo Knox addressed council with concerns for the intersection of Glenn Street and Adelaide Street. Knox told council he believed the intersection was dangerous and asked them to study the intersection to possibly install an all-way stop sign. Senn asked city staff to reach out to the South Carolina Department of Transportation to conduct the study.

Old Business

Under old business, Councilwoman Jackie Holmes made a motion that was seconded by Councilman Carlton Kinard to approve second reading of an ordinance to amend the zoning ordinance to remove the prohibition of illumination of digital signs from 11 p.m. until sunrise.

With a motion by Councilman Lemont Glasgow and second from Councilman David Force, second reading was also passed of an ordinance to annex certain areas contiguous to the city limits into the City of Newberry.

Second reading was passed of an ordinance to assign a zoning classification and amend the zoning and future land use map for a parcel located at 1407 Chapman Drive. Motion was made by Holmes and seconded by Councilman Edwin Wicker.

Final order of old business was passing second reading to authorize the lease purchase of an automated side-loader truck with a motion by Wicker and second by Councilman David DuBose.

New Business

Under new business, a resolution was passed granting city council authorization to its members, managers, department heads, personnel and agents to perform all necessary actions and duties to meet the redistricting criteria in order to accomplish the redistricting of the City of Newberry. Criteria for redistricting is as follows:

  • Adhere to the court ordered constitutional requirement of one person, one vote.
  • Adherence to the 1965 Voting Rights Act, as amended and as interpreted by court decisions.
  • Solicit public input.
  • Ensure that parts of the districts are contiguous.
  • To the extent practicable, ensure that the districts are geographically compact.
  • Respect Communities of Interest.
  • Attempt to maintain constituent consistency.
  • Seek to avoid splitting precincts.

Motion was made by Glasgow and seconded by Holmes.

Resolution was also passed Tuesday to adopt the update to the All Natural Hazards Risk Assessment and Mitigation Plan for the Central Midlands Region in its entirety as an official plan and will undertake annual recordings of hazard events, their impact duration and cost.

The Central Midlands Council of Governments, accepting the All Natural Hazards Risk Assessment and Mitigation Plan from the Central Midlands Regional Risk Assessment and Hazard Mitigation Committee, will submit on behalf of the participating counties and municipalities the adopted All Natural Hazards Plan to the Federal Emergency Management Agency officials for final review and approval.

Motion was made by DuBose and seconded by Force to approve the resolution.

Also under new business, council approved to add Sherwin Williams SW2847 Roycroft Bottle Green as a body color to the Architectural Review Board’s color palette. Senn made the motion, seconded by Glasgow.

The owner of 1109 Caldwell Street requested to paint their storefront in that color, which was not on the approved color palette and needed to be brought before council.

Discussion included DuBose expressing concern about approving too many colors and leading to many requests and a deviation from the ARB’s color palette. Holmes expressed her desire to maintain a historical level to downtown.

Other updates included:

  • Wicker made a motion, seconded by Councilman Carlton Kinard to approve the city’s FOIA fees as presented, to include the removal of CD-ROMs as a delivery device and replace them with USB flash drives at a cost of $6.
  • Senn shared information with council, highlighting the 2021 South Carolina Election Calendar and the number of municipal elections that took place on November 2, 2021. He noted that 163 of the 271 cities in SC currently hold elections on “Municipal Election Day.” The state is working to get municipalities uniformed on election days, Senn said. An ordinance would be required to move election day, and if passed, each member of council would have their term extended one year.
  • Glasgow made a motion, seconded by DuBose to approve premium pay of $500 for Tier 3 (scheduled, part-time or contract) employees and $250 for Tier 4 (seasonal) employees. Council expressed a desire to continue studying premium pay for volunteer firefighters.
  • Holmes made a motion to appoint Bobby Patel to the Accommodations Tax Committee. Dubose seconded the motion.