November 17, 2023
Mayor Foster Senn shared a variety of good news and happenings throughout the City of Newberry on Tuesday during council’s November meeting. The first being two employee spotlights for the month in Will Bouknight, with the city’s police department and Derrick English, with the city’s utilities department.
Senn highlighted Newberry’s newest TRACK Trail located at the Newberry Recreation Complex, 1786 Glenn Street Extension. The City of Newberry became one of the first representatives of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation’s Kids in Parks program expansion in South Carolina.
Through a grant from the BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation, Kids in Parks’ goal is to establish these TRACK Trails throughout South Carolina, Senn said.
Several new businesses have recently held ribbon cuttings in Newberry, he said to include Storage Depot on College Street, Founders Federal Credit Union on Main Street, a spa off of Hunt Street using stem cell skin therapy and Freshens and Starbucks on the campus of Newberry College.
Senn also highlighted city staff efforts with Halloween in the city and a program for seniors ages 60 and up through the Central Midlands Council of Government.
Also under announcements, City Council recently designated December 1, 2023 as Arbor Day in the City of Newberry. Senn said that in South Carolina, the first Friday in December is typically designated as Arbor Day. This year’s tree planting for the holiday, he said will be completed at Newberry Middle School.
Under old business, Fire Chief Gene Shealy requested council’s approval of a donation of the station’s Engine 2 to the Newberry County Career Center. The engine was replaced in 2020, he said, but was previously only meant to be donated if the career center had a building for the engine to be housed in.
Shealy said the engine would not bring in more than $5,000 if sold and he felt it much better spent to be donated to the career center as the program was very beneficial for both the city and county. Motion to approve the donated was made by Councilperson Lemont Glasgow and seconded by Councilperson Jackie Holmes.
Each council member was presented with coins by Shealy, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the fire department. Only 150 coins were made, Shealy said, each numbered.
“I wanted to present you all with a numbered coin and thank you for what you do for the city and our department,” Shealy said.
Under new business, council approved the fiscal year 2024-2025 budget calendar and 2024 regular council meeting and work session dates.
The budget calendar included a recommendation for council to meet on the evenings of April 23, May 1 and May 2 to review the upcoming fiscal year’s budget and hold their annual workshop revolving around that. Interim City Manager Ed Driggers said this change presented the opportunity for council to see the budget in it’s entirety via a presentation from him prior to the workshops on May 1 and May 2 so that they might have time to process the information earlier. Motion to approve the budget calendar was made by Councilperson David DuBose and seconded by Councilperson Carlton Kinard.
With a motion by DuBose and second from Holmes, council also approved the 2024 meeting and work session dates. All city council meetings will be held on the second Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m., with an additional meeting added on June 18 at 5 p.m. for the second reading of the budget.
Council work session dates approved included the dates on May 1-2 and a council retreat on January 23 from 5 p.m. until approximately 9 p.m. and then January 24 from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.
South Carolina state law requires city council to annually approve the jury list for the City of Newberry Municipal Court. The jury list consists of registered voters within the city limits of Newberry. Motion to approve the list was made by Councilperson Kinard and seconded by Glasgow.
Council also approved a resolution Tuesday to assume a claim deductible with the South Carolina Municipal Insurance and Risk Financing Fund.
Driggers told council one of the options the city had available relative to their premium payments for both the workers comp and liability programs is the ability to take a higher deductible for a lower premium.
Human Resources Director Jana Boice said the city currently had a $1,000 deductible for both general liability and property. Boice said city staff’s recommendation was to change to $10,000 for property and $25,000 for general liability. The reason being that based on claims history from 2020-2022, Boice said the city could have saved an average of $26,494 with a $5,000 deductible or $11,986 annually with a $5,000 for general liability.
“If we go to a $10,000 deductible for property, over the course of the next five years we could potentially save $36,771 and $34,219 in general liability [over next five years],” she said.
Driggers gave the disclaimer that while they’re looking at opportunity savings it’s based on number of claims and the value of those claims.
“While we believe based on our history that this could be beneficial to us, there is risk in that,” he said. “Full disclosure, we think that the risk is worth the potential gain.”
When looking at options, Driggers said staff looked for the sweet spot that would provided the highest potential savings with the least amount of risk.
Motion to approve the resolution was made by Glasgow and seconded by Holmes.
Senn asked Boice if a report could be shown to council next year as to if this change was beneficial.
Also under new business, council approved a petition to annex properties at tax map numbers 399-25 and 399-26 located on Adelaide Street. Motion to accept the position was made by Kinard and seconded by Councilperson Edwin Wicker. First reading to then annex the property was approved with a motion from Holmes and seconded by DuBose.
The above properties on Adelaide Street then underwent first reading to assign a zoning classification of R-6 Residential as recommended by the Newberry Planning Commission. Planning and Development Director Wayne Redfern told council this zoning designation allows the owner to put duplexes as well as a single-family dwelling on the property.
First reading of an ordinance was approved by council Tuesday to amend the zoning map for property located at 1606 Wilson Road. Redfern said the owner was petitioning to rezone the property to NC- Neighborhood Commercial, as recommended by the Newberry Planning Commission. Motion to approve first reading was made by Holmes and seconded by Wicker.
First reading of an ordinance was also passed authorizing and directing the city to enter an intergovernmental agreement. Driggers said this was the agreement between the city and the Municipal Association of South Carolina authorizing them to collect fees on the city’s behalf and remit them to them. Motion to approve the ordinance was made by Glasgow and seconded by DuBose.
With a motion by Kinard and second by Wicker, first reading was also passed of an ordinance to amend the business license ordinance to update the class schedule as required by Act 176. Finance Director Shannon Smith told council the business license standardization act required municipalities to update their business licenses every two years.
Smith said this year’s change reduces the cost of business licenses for companies in the accommodations industry, but increases those in the business/restaurant industry.
“Everyone in the state will be making these changes regarding classification,” Driggers said. “We are not changing our rates, we are only changing the classification of those businesses.”
As examples for council, Smith said they had compared two downtown businesses and should their gross receipts stay the same, these changes would show these particular businesses seeing an increase of $21-31 per year.
Another comparison was done with a chain restaurant on Wilson Road with bigger gross receipts that would see approximately $128 per year under these changes.
Council asked staff for notification to be given to businesses when reminders for businesses licenses went out next year.
Council passed first reading of an ordinance to amend the zoning map for properties located at tax map number 341-1-2-8 located on 2603 Nance Street and 341-1-2-8/1 located on First Street. The Newberry Planning Commission recommended a zoning classification of NC – Neighborhood Commercial for the zoning and future land use maps. Motion was made by Wicker and seconded by Holmes to approve first reading.
First reading of an ordinance passed to amend the zoning map for tax map number 341-1-24-2 located at 3115 College Street, 341-1-24-3 located at 3101 College Street and 341-1-24-4 located at 1629 First Street. The Newberry Planning Commission recommended a zoning classification of RMX – Mixed Use Residential for the zoning and future land use maps. Motion to approve was made by Kinard and seconded by DuBose.
Council passed first reading of an ordinance to amend the zoning map for tax map numbers 341-4-5-7, 341-4-5-12, 341-4-7-7, 341-4-7-8, 341-4-7-9, 341-4-7-10 and 341-4-7-11 located on Radio Street. Redfern said the property owners were looking at putting in duplexes that could be sold individually. The Newberry Planning Commission recommended a zoning classification of RMX – Mixed Use Residential for the zoning and future land use maps. Motion was made to approve by Holmes and seconded by Glasgow.
South Carolina law requires the certification of municipal election results. Council reviewed the report from the Newberry County Voter Registration with official results of the 2023 Newberry municipal election for Districts 1, 3, 5 and Mayor.
Motion to approve the results was made by Kinard and seconded by Wicker.
Interim City Manager Report
Driggers presented a report to council addressing many aspects of the city including that as a natural follow-up to a municipal election that members of city staff would be meeting with representatives with the county election offices to review the process
“We know the full process of all we did regarding the redistricting and for that information to be shared with the state and back at the county level,” he said. “While we don’t conduct the elections, we want it to be as accurate as it can possibly be. That is our objective.”
In the Parks, Recreation and Tourism (PRT) department, Driggers asked council for feedback on color schemes for Wells Japanese Garden. As the park’s fencing and entry gate was completed, staff knew that color schemes for the park would need to be reviewed.
Driggers stated that representatives of PRT made contact with local artists, professionals and an independent consultant with knowledge in Japanese culture.
“We need a general feel from council if we want to do something different than what is currently there [color scheme],” he said.
Feedback from council received Tuesday was that they as well as the public they felt was pleased with the renovation and comfortable with the current color scheme being used in the park.
Driggers identified six primary focus areas as part of his improvement plan for opportunities in changes to organizational structures. These focus areas included process reviews, defining the roles of elected officials and of the city manager, reviewing the city’s organizational structure, council receiving information in a timely manner, continuing professional development for elected officials and staff, and communication among stakeholders.
Under public comment, Stephen Corsini shared that the Ritz would sponsor a two-day event, Ritz Fest on February 2-3, 2024 to raise money for suicide prevention. More information on the event is available at www.theritzfest.org.
Sheena Paige then expressed concerns regarding the city’s redistricting map changes prior to the 2023 municipal election.
DuBose made a motion, seconded by Kinard to return to open session. Senn declared the motion carried by a unanimous vote of city councilmembers.
Wicker than made a motion, seconded by Kinard authorizing the interim city manager to enter into an agreement with Spectrum for a pole attachment license agreement for the use of utility poles, erected or to be erected within the areas in which both parties render service in South Carolina.
Also following executive session, Glasgow made a motion, seconded by Holmes to approve first reading of an ordinance to revive and amend a contract of purchase and sale of land located on Dixie Drive (TMS #401-64) to Southbury Development, LLC and to authorize the city manager to execute a contract of purchase and sale with an updated closing date.
City Council will meet again for a regular council meeting on Tuesday, December 12 at 7 p.m.