June 10, 2022

 

City Council passed first reading of the budget Tuesday with no proposed increases in city taxes.

City Manager Matt DeWitt said the proposed budget was balanced without any proposed increases in taxes or business license fees. He said that due to the rising cost of inflation and providing public services, the city’s budget had been difficult to balance this year.

The proposed general fund budget discussed by council was balanced at $10,876,625, a decrease of $3,522,912 or 24.5%, compared to last year. DeWitt said it felt it was worth noting that there has been no city millage increase in over 11 years.

A proposal of a two dollar increase on residential garbage services, from $13 to $15 per month and the elimination of the last “free pick-up” on commercial garbage containers is in this year’s general fund. This will increase the average commercial refuse bill by $21 per month.

DeWitt said the cost of delivering services continues to increase and unfortunately, the county must cover their costs at the transfer station, and this causes the city to have to raise rates to keep up.

The total estimated utility gross revenues for the upcoming fiscal year were $35,256,791, representing a slight decrease compared to last year.

An annual increase of 2.5% and 1.25% for both water and sewer respectively are recommended to offset the additional debt capacity needed for the bond covenants and recommended by the city’s rate consultants, he said.

These increases also help fund any emergency repairs on the city’s system that they experience each year.

The average inside city residential customer will see a total increase of $1.31 per month based on a 5/8” meter and 600 cubic feet in water and sewer consumption.

As part of his presentation, DeWitt covered line items in the budget that were proposed to experience a change of over $20,000. These changes have been previously reported on.

Prior to first reading, Mayor Foster Senn held a public hearing on the proposed budget. No public comments were received in favor or opposition to the budget, however, citizen Charlene Granville raised questions related to a potential Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) in the Wise Street neighborhood to demolish properties in disrepair, as well as money in last year’s budget for Wise Street Park that is not in the 2022-23 budget.

Senn noted an ongoing CDBG demo project in the West End neighborhood to address properties in disrepair that have become a nuisance and/or hazard and that owners of the properties to be demolished are included in the process. He also noted that an application for an additional grant has not been submitted and that the next area to be addressed has not been determined. The money in last year’s budget was part of a grant for park improvements that are currently taking place, he said.

 

 

Following comments, motion to approve first reading was made by Councilman Carlton Kinard and seconded by Councilwoman Jackie Holmes. Second reading will be held on Tuesday, June 21 at 6 p.m.

Councilman Lemont Glasgow thanked staff for their hard work on balancing the proposed budget, especially with no tax or business license increases.

City Updates

Senn recognized David Parnell with Newberry County Veteran Affairs Tuesday and thanked him for creating the annual Veterans Day luncheon with Samsung, for his help in coordinating the annual Veterans Day parade in Newberry and for leading the annual Memorial Day ceremony at Memorial Park for many years.

“We are glad to recognize tonight someone that has been a great friend to the City of Newberry and a great friend to the citizens of Newberry County,” Senn said.

Council presented Parnell with a letter from the city thanking him for his work in Newberry and wishing him the best on his upcoming retirement.

A proclamation declaring June 19, 2022 as Juneteenth in the City of Newberry was signed by Senn on Tuesday. Bridget Carey, tourism and events manager for the city spoke on the event and encouraged the community to attend. New this year, Carey mentioned was a website, www.newberryjuneteenth.com that was a good point of reference for all that would be taking place during the event.

The city will fly 17 Juneteenth flags the week of the event, Carey said and that they would be interspersed among the American flags on Main Street.

A vendor fee was charged this year for all that signed up to participate in order to provide two $500 scholarships. Carey said students at Mid-Carolina and Whitmire High School received the scholarships.

Old Business

Second and final reading was passed by council to amend section 2-17 of the Code of Ordinances to establish the beginning of the term for offices of mayor and members of council. Motion was made by Holmes and seconded by Councilman David DuBose.

Second and final reading was also passed Tuesday to amend section 2-16 of the Code of Ordinances to establish a filing fee for mayor and city council. Motion was made by Councilman Edwin Wicker and seconded by Councilman Carlton Kinard.

New Business

Under new business, a petition to annex property located at 1021 Wallace Drive (TMS 397-1-2-6) was accepted with a motion by DuBose and second by Glasgow

The annexation petition was received from the property owners. Motion was then made by Kinard and seconded by DuBose for first reading to assign a zoning classification and amend the zoning and future land use map to R10-Residential. Senn said the parcel’s intended purpose would allow for residential use and that the Newberry Planning Commission recommended the zoning classification change.

Public hearing and second reading on the parcel will be held on Tuesday, July 12.

Consideration of a petition to annex property (TMS 345-1) located on Dixie Drive was also approved Tuesday. The annexation petition was received from the property owners. Motion was made by Holmes and seconded by Glasgow to accept the petition.

DeWitt noted that this parcel, along with two others on Dixie Drive are petitioning to be annexed for the purpose of a residential neighborhood development containing approximately 300 new homes. Developers have submitted preliminary plans to the Newberry Planning Commission, which were recommended for approval at their May meeting.

Josh Rabon with Civil Engineering of Columbia (CEC) was in attendance representing Forestar, the firm that would develop the property, if approved. He noted properties across the street are in the city limits and zoned R6. Rabon added that the proposed development would exceed open space requirements and meet all screening obligations. Total acreage for the proposed development totals 81.6 acres.

 

Wayne Redfern, director of planning and development said homes in the neighborhood were expected to be of a similar design and quality to those in Newberry Landing.

 

Senn said he would like to communicate potential developments with the Newberry County School District so that they could include that information in their planning sessions.

First reading of an ordinance to annex the property as it is contiguous to city limits was then approved. Motion was made by Holmes and seconded by Councilman David Force.

This parcel was also recommended for a zoning classification of R6-Residential by the Newberry Planning Commission. Following first reading of an ordinance, motion was made by Glasgow and seconded by Kinard to rezone the parcel. Public hearing and second reading will also be held on Tuesday, July 12.

Consideration of a petition to annex property (TMS 345-12 and 345-13) located on Dixie Drive was also approved with a motion from Kinard and second from Wicker. The annexation petition was received from the property owners. First reading of an ordinance to annex the property as it is contiguous to city limits was then approved. Motion was made by Holmes and seconded by DuBose.

This parcel was also recommended for a zoning classification of R6-Residential by the Newberry Planning Commission. Following first reading of an ordinance, motion was made by DuBose and seconded by Glasgow to rezone the parcel. Public hearing and second reading will also be held on Tuesday, July 12.

First reading of an ordinance was passed to amend the zoning and future land use map for a parcel located at 621 Drayton Street. The Newberry Planning Commission recommended a zoning classification from BI – Basic Industrial to R6 – Residential. Motion to approve first reading was made by Holmes and seconded by Kinard. Public hearing and second reading will take place on Tuesday, July 12.

Consideration of a request for outside water and sewer services at a property located on Langford Mill Road (TMS 292-34) was approved with a motion by Holmes and seconded by DuBose. The property owner has agreed to execute an annexation covenant indicating a willingness to annex if the property become contiguous to the city limits and council determines it is in the best interest of the city to annex the property.

There will be a $1,400 outside water tap fee and $1,200 outside sewer tap fee.

Other updates

Scott Lukoski presented information to council Tuesday on the Summer Fair, sponsored by Keep Newberry County Beautiful. The fair will be held August 25-28 at the Emergency Services Training Ground, formerly known as the Newberry County Fairground. Lukoski said admission would be free and arm bands for amusement rides would be affordable.

The fair will feature food vendors, games, rides, and prizes, free demonstrations from local participants, artisans, and community booths. Sponsorship opportunities are available, he said, and all proceeds will benefit Keep Newberry County Beautiful and the Newberry County Soil and Water Conservation District.

Following the return into open session, Holmes made a motion to appoint David Seymour to the Planning Commission for a three-year term. Wicker second the motion.

Public Comment

Granville addressed council concerning the renaming of Wise Street Park to Israel Brooks Park, expressing a desire for it to be named Major Israel Brooks, Jr. Park or US Marshall Israel Brooks, Jr. Park. She also expressed disappointment that the park’s renovations were not listed as a priority for the Capital Project Sales Tax. Granville said the park had been closed for months leaving no outlet for community members. She said that gun violence is devastating the neighborhood and the African American community and asked the issue to be made a priority.

DeWitt said that construction and progress at the park was ongoing and Senn noted that efforts were ongoing to address gun violence.

City Council will meet again on Tuesday, June 21 at 6 p.m.

 David Parnell with Newberry County Veteran Affairs was recognized by council for creating the annual Veterans Day luncheon with Samsung, for his help in coordinating the annual Veterans Day parade in Newberry and for leading the annual Memorial Day ceremony at Memorial Park for many years. From left to right: Councilman Edwin Wicker, Mayor Foster Senn, David Parnell, Councilwoman Jackie Holmes and Councilman David DuBose. 

 Mayor Senn signed a proclamation declaring June 19, 2022 as Juneteenth in the City of Newberry. From left to right: Councilman Carlton Kinard, Councilwoman Jackie Holmes and Mayor Foster Senn.