City Council approved first reading to adopt the budget for FY19-20 Tuesday night prior to no comments made in favor or opposition to the proposed budget.

City Manager Matt DeWitt said the city had presented a balanced budget for the upcoming fiscal year with no increases in taxes or business license fees. However, it does contain an incremental increase in sanitation services of one dollar on residential garbage pickup and the elimination of one free pick up on commercial garbage containers.

The total proposed General Fund budget plus special accounts for FY19-20 total $14,031,872.

Also in the budget is a four percent increase for employees broken down by a three percent Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) and one percent merit pool. DeWitt said that major capital items included in this year’s budget were a new pumper fire truck and rear load dump truck.

“We’ve been cycling these pieces of equipment through on a schedule to make sure our folks have the best equipment possible to service the community,” DeWitt said.

Mayor Foster Senn asked DeWitt on the age of the pumper truck being replaced for the fire department to which he replied it was a 1996 model that would ultimately be donated to the Newberry County Career Center for their firefighter program to help train students getting their certifications.

The total proposed under the city’s utility fund budget including special accounts totals $49,995,258. DeWitt said retail electric base rates would remain flat and all scheduled Piedmont Municipal Power Agency (PMPA) credits would be passed through to the benefit of the customer.

Both the minimum meter charge for water and sewer meters is proposed to increase under this budget by two percent, yielding an average of .74 per customer increase per month based on a 5/8 inch meter (standard residential meter size).

Both budgets combined for FY19-20 show a total of $64,027,130, which represents a decrease of $2,746,520 from last year’s budget, DeWitt said.

Motion was made by Councilman Thomas Louis Boyd and seconded by Councilman Edwin Wicker to approve first reading of the budget. Second reading will take place on Thursday, June 20 at 7 p.m. at City Hall.

Several special recognitions were made Tuesday to include a presentation by Kelly Duncan with The Newberry Observer. Recently, the Observer polled their readers to determine the “Best” of Newberry in many categories. Several city departments to include best garbage pickup, best theatre, best in recreation and best craft. Members of the city’s Public Works, Newberry Opera House and Recreation departments accepted the recognitions on behalf of their staff.

“We’re very pleased that the city was recognized in four categories,” Senn said.

Also recognized by council Tuesday were several employees recently having graduated from the 2019 Leadership Newberry County program through the Newberry County Chamber of Commerce. Jana Boice, Heather Hawkins, Elyssa Haven and Katie Werts began the program in September 2018. The program focuses each month on topics including Agriculture, Arts, Communities, Economic Development, Education, Government, Infrastructure, Law Enforcement, Health and Human Services, Recreation and Tourism. The program is experienced-based and designed to help participants understand the assets and challenges of Newberry County, elevate their leadership and promote further engagement in the community.

Under announcements, Senn recognized that employees Luke Layman and Moses Groom were recently named Team of the Year on behalf of the City of Newberry for the work they do with meter services.

DeWitt said while the city formerly recognized an employee of the year, that so many things at the city require a team effort to make sure they operate the best they can for citizens.

“These guys have been instrumental in making sure that our utility meter program can communicate with customers and City Hall and we thank them for the work they’ve done,” DeWitt said.

Assistant Utility Director David Eldridge provided council with updates Tuesday on the fiber network being rolled out into the city limits, notifying them that the first service area (Newberry Hospital area) would be ready to begin customer hookups beginning Friday, June 14.

Senn reminded council and community members Tuesday that while downtown they may see utility vehicles from Electricom, the city’s contractor for the fiber installation and their contractor LightWave Fiber and Utility Group.

Eldridge said they estimated that the installation of fiber throughout the city limits should be completed early in the new year.

Hearing no one speak in favor or opposition of two public hearings held by City Council Tuesday, several readings were held with the first being second reading of an ordinance rezoning a property on Dixie Drive, Tax Map #346-2-1-44 from GC General Commercial to R8 Residential. Motion was made by Councilman Lemont Glasgow and seconded by Wicker.

Motion was made by Councilman David DuBose and seconded by Boyd to approve first reading of an ordinance to amend the zoning text of the city to provide for murals in the city limits. The city’s Planning and Development department in an effort to streamline processes and create uniformity for murals in the city recommended an amendment, Senn said to add murals to general regulations of the zoning ordinance. The amendment would give council the authority to approve all murals located within the General Commercial, Core Commercial and Office Commercial zoning districts.

Senn said mural designs would be submitted to council for approval done through two readings as well as a public hearing.

Under new business, council approved a resolution to define the usage of color within the color palette used by the city’s Architectural Review Board (ARB). Senn said the zoning ordinance the city adopted October 9, 2018 required the city through council to approve all exterior paint colors of buildings that may be considered for approval by the ARB. The resolution’s purpose is to designate three separate classifications (body, trim, accent) for approved colors and how they are to be used.

Body colors were defined as those colors identified as “body colors” and may be applied to a portion or all of the exterior building structure. Those labeled as “trim colors” may be applied to no more than 20 percent of the total exterior painted surface area of the building structure. Colors labeled as “accent colors” may be applied to no more than 10 percent of the total exterior painted surface area of the building’s structure.

Motion to approve the resolution was made by Goudelock and seconded by Boyd.

Council also approved authorization to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), partnering with the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office to utilize GIS mapping software.

Senn said the sheriff’s office had been using a Where Technology Happens (WTH) GIS mapping software system for some time with success, helping officers with safety during critical incidents and including an Automated Vehicle Location (AVL) that allowed dispatchers to have real time tracking of police units in the field.

The software allows viewing of units nearest to call for service locations, reporting unit travel history to reduce liability and also provides citizens patrol history in their neighborhood if there are complains on officers not patrolling certain areas. In addition, there are crime mapping applications that assist in locating active crime areas and crime trends and officers will have the ability to utilize critical facility mapping on their computers.

The Newberry County Sheriff’s Office approached the Newberry Police Department, Senn said with the opportunity to partner and utilize the program that would streamline processes currently used by the departments as well as save on the cost of the software.

DeWitt said he felt the technology was much needed to help better keep citizens informed about what the city’s police department did each day to protect their interests.

Police Chief Roy McClurkin said their department had a great working relationship with the sheriff’s office and it was great to be able to tap into what they’ve already been able to use in that service. The Newberry Fire Department, McClurkin said would also be included in those services.

Motion was made by Boyd and seconded by Goudelock to enter into the MOU.

Following executive session, council entered into open session with a motion made by Goudelock and seconded by Wicker to reappoint Robert Summer to a four-year term of the Newberry Opera House board. Robert Matheson was appointed to a three-year term (expiring in 2022) filling an unexpired term of a former member, followed by Dr. Peggy Winder, Mattie Dillion, Jack Shield and Susan Dorton appointed to four-year terms, expiring in 2023.

 Voted Best Craft - Newberry Arts Center 

 Voted Best Theatre - Newberry Opera House 

 Voted Best in Parks and Recreation - Parks, Recreation and Tourism 

 Voted Best Garbage Pickup - Public Works 

 City employees were recognized on their recent graduation from Leadership Newberry County: Jana Boice, Heather Hawkins, Elyssa Haven and Katie Werts.