Newberry City Council passed first reading of an ordinance Tuesday for amendments to the revenue and expenditure appropriations in the current year’s budget.

City Manager Matt DeWitt told council that each year when city staff produced the budget, they made their absolute best guess as to what the city would be facing in the upcoming year. However, sometimes mid-year adjustments need to be made as the year progresses.

“It’s a pretty normal process across the state for cities this time a year,” DeWitt said.

DeWitt went through a spreadsheet with council with the following items needing adjusted in the current year’s budget.

  • Police Department body cameras – DeWitt said an addition of $60,190 was needed as the city received a grant for body cameras. While the city’s police officers were already wearing body cameras, these new cameras contain upgraded technology and act as an additional failsafe for officers when it comes to the activation of the cameras.
  • Class A Burn Building – An addition of $335,000 was added for a Class A Burn Building used for fire department training. A check was received from the state last year for $250,000 DeWitt said in support of the building to be used by both the city and county fire departments. The money was transferred from a holding account to purchase the building. The house purchased for $85,000 behind the city’s Wilson Road fire department location was also included in that line item. Those funds were also transferred from savings.
  • Confined Space Equipment – DeWitt said the city received a grant for $25,000 from Newberry County to purchase confined space equipment. While the city will house the equipment, it can also be used by Newberry County.
  • Newberry Recreation Complex – A change of $250,000 DeWitt said was coming from Capital Project Sales Tax funding that was being held in savings for the buildout of the recreation complex. When funding was originally allocated, DeWitt said they were not expecting the increase in lumber which led to some of the money being pulled from savings and put to use to pay the increased costs.
  • Fiber Optic Project – While a three-year buildout was initially planned for the city’s fiber network, it was completed much sooner with unexpected costs totaling $886,972. DeWitt said while there was more of a cost up front, the city was seeing much higher revenues than anticipated on fiber sales in the community.
  • Water/Sewer Automotive – A truck was lined up last year for purchase in the utilities department, however due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ability to secure the truck was delayed. Funding of $40,000 was needed to purchase the vehicle.
  • Wilson Road tie line - Contract labor in the amount of $185,550 was needed to complete the electric tie in on Wilson Road, Tim Baker, utilities director said.
  • Finance Equipment – An adjustment was needed, DeWitt said of $60,000 for the purchase of a PayGo kiosk that will be placed in the drive-thru of City Hall, allowing PayGo utility customers another option of paying their bill 24/7.
  • And finally, DeWitt said an adjustment of $886,972 was needed to complete the adjustments in the Utility Capital Fund as listed above.

Motion to approve first reading was made by Councilman David DuBose and seconded by Councilman Lemont Glasgow.

Also approved by council was an ordinance to temporarily suspend the normal operating procedures and to provide for emergency procedures applicable to public meetings during the continuance of such emergencies.

Originally passed last year, this ordinance was once again extended, allowing the Mayor, City Council and City Boards and Commissions to remotely participate in voting and operations procedures by telephone or other means of electronic communication provided that they comply with the provisions of the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act.

Enacted due to the circumstances the city faces in combating the spread of COVID-19, the ordinance will expire in 61 days, unless extended. Motion was made by Glasgow and seconded by DuBose.

Under new business, Councilwoman Holmes made a motion, seconded by Councilman Edwin Wicker to pass first reading of an ordinance amending a previous ordinance establishing a rate stabilization fund for the City of Newberry Combined Public Utility System.

While the original ordinance passed in 2019 established a rate stabilization account for the city’s electrical distribution system, the flow of funds into the rate stabilization account was inconsistent with the covenants of the city contained in its bond ordinance.

The city’s amended and restated bond ordinance enacted on April 14, 2015, which provides the mechanism for issuing revenue bonds for the city’s combined public utility system, consisting of its electrical distribution system, waterworks system and sewer system previously provided the procedures to establish a rate stabilization fund. The city’s financial policies dated April 21, 2015 also make provision for funding a rate stabilization fund, which is consistent with the bond ordinance.

DeWitt said the city was enacting this ordinance to amend a previous ordinance in order to make it consistent with the covenants in the bond ordinance and policies.

Also approved by council was first reading of an ordinance to establish fees at the Newberry Recreation Complex. While splash park admission fees had already been discussed by council, these additional fees include athletic field and rental fees as well as other rentals.

Athletic field rentals at the complex will include an hourly rental of $25 per field per hour for non-tournament related use. A two-hour rental period is required for rental of any field as well as a field preparation fee of $50 per field rental. A $10 fee for lights will be charged for the use of lights to illuminate each field rental as well as a $50 security deposit, DeWitt said.

Tournament field rentals will include a fee of $200 per field per day for games scheduled to begin and end prior to 5 p.m. For games beginning after 5 p.m. the fee is increased to $250 per field per day. There is a required deposit of $500 per scheduled event for which one or more rental agreement is entered.

Individual hourly rentals for batting cages will be $5 per hour for individual use and $15 per hour for team use. Teams with more than 15 users are required to ren an additional cage.

The large shelter can be rented at a fee of $20 per hour while the small shelter is $15 per hour. A minimum of two consecutive hours is required when renting as well as a $50 security deposit.

Canoes, kayaks and pedal boats will also be available for rent at the complex’s Hidden Lake. These can be rented for a fee of $5 per hour per person for any of the equipment.

The pickleball court rental will be $10 per hour, per court, while the ping-pong table rentals will be $5 per hour, per court. Volleyball court rentals will be $10 per hour, per court.

While all of the courts and shelters have a fee associated with them, DeWitt said at any time, residents could come out and use these facilities on a first come, first served basis at no cost.

“You don’t have to rent them to use them, but if you do reserve them for a certain time, there is a fee for the convenience,” Dewitt said.

Fees will still be required to use the canoe, kayak and pedal boats.

For private event hosting, the city parks recreation and tourism director is authorized to establish a rental fee and security deposed based upon the facility sought to be rented at a rate of no less than $50 per hour, per facility requested.

Security for events if needed would be $20 per hour per security officer/personnel as assigned by the parks recreation and tourism director as they deem appropriate.

Parks Recreation and Tourism Director Scott Sawyer said in some cases, it may be required that a private agency provide security.

Adult supervision and a government issued photo identification card is required to be provided to all rentals.

Motion to provide first reading was made by Glasgow and seconded by Kinard.

Updates/Announcements

Under updates and announcements, Sawyer said the recreation complex had been busy with many enjoying the park. The picnic shelter construction, to include the concrete pads had also been completed.

The splash park has been winterized, Sawyer said and the construction of the scorers building was still underway and making good progress.

Mayor Foster Senn said an expert from the waterfowl association had come to give advice about potentially putting ducks into the pond on the property.

Schumpert and Sons Paving, Inc. was awarded the contract for the paving of the Wise Street Park trail and should be completed quickly, pending any weather concerns. Sawyer said the trail will include a story walk being done in conjunction with Westview Behavioral Center and Newberry County First Steps to include story book holders along the trail for families to enjoy reading a book with their children as they walked the trail. The trail will be at least half a mile long, Sawyer said.

Requests for Qualifications for Wells Japanese Garden pond renovation were posted on SCBO, the state’s procurement services website, Sawyer said with a December 31, 2020 deadline. Bids are being reviewed, and the hope is for renovations to begin in March.

 

As for 2021 events, Sawyer highlighted that the department was hoping for a good year for events, including a new potential event, Juneteenth that was hoped to be held on June 19.

Senn ended the announcements by thank the city for their efforts on downtown Christmas décor as he said he had received many compliments. He also commended the police and fire departments for their work to spread Christmas cheer throughout the holiday season.

Following executive session, council returned to vote on appointments to several committees. The following were approved:

  • Neville Glover, Debra Blizzard, Paul Ringer and Joy Sheppard for reappointment for the Accommodations Tax Committee
  • Luvester Davis and Kevin Clamp for reappointment for the Architectural Review Board
  • Robert Clark, Susan Smith and Jim Parks for reappointment for the Zoning Board of Appeals.
  • Sami Worthington for reappointment for the Miss Newberry Board

City Council will meet again virtually on Tuesday, February 9 at 7 p.m. Information regarding how to view the meeting will be announced closer to that date.