County edges toward making landfill improvements

Darlington County Council held their final 2015 meeting on Dec. 7 Photo by Samantha Lyles

Darlington County Council held their final 2015 meeting on Dec. 7
Photo by Samantha Lyles

By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer, slyles@newsandpress.net

Darlington County Council held their regular monthly meeting December 7, and took the first step toward making long-needed improvements at the county landfill and Environmental Services department.

After an early executive session to discuss the matter, council held a title-only first reading of Ordinance 15-32, authorizing the issuance and sale of a general obligation bond not exceeding $3.5 million, the proceeds of which will be used to make equipment and facility upgrades at the landfill. To the extent available, debt service on this bond will be paid from revenues of the Solid Waste Fund. If those revenues are insufficient to make payments on the bond, millage must be imposed.

When they reconvened, council added a provision that instructs county administrator Terence Arrington to contract engineering and architecture firm Michael Baker International to formulate a master plan for the county’s Environmental Services department. This provision kicks in only when and if council votes final approval for the bond ordinance.

Also on the agenda, council approved third and final reading on Ordinance 15-29, again designating the Rubicon Family Counseling Center as the agency charged with handling alcohol and drug abuse planning and programs for county employees. These programs are funded by excise tax revenue.

After a public hearing where no citizen raised concerns, Ordinance 15-30 received second reading approval. This measure approves the receipt of $23,770 in unclaimed S.C. State Lottery funds for use by the Darlington County Library System to purchase or lease library materials, equipment, and resources without additional expenditure of local funds.

Council also held a title-only first reading of Ordinance 15-31, authorizing the acceptance of $16,000 from the Darlington County School District to help pay expenses for eight School Resource Officers (SROs) posted at county public schools. This unexpected lump sum offer could be used to defray non-salary expenses (of which the county pays 100-percent) at the rate of $2,000 per officer.

Ordinance 15-33, proposing to dissolve the Darlington County Ambulance Commission, cleared a title-only first reading, with the intent to force any ambulance service to get written permission from Darlington County Council before they can legally operate within the county’s ambulance service district.

Resolution No. 660 received unanimous approval and will allow the county to increase revenue by collecting older delinquent taxes on personal property by participating in the Setoff Debt Collection program.

Council also approved Resolution No. 661, re-establishing the Darlington County Courthouse Construction Advisory Committee. This resolution outlines numerous reasons why the current 50-plus year-old county courthouse is unsuitable to continue service, including poor security and safety systems, leaky ceilings and windows, crumbling walls and buckling floors. This advisory committee will determine needs and provide guidance for the design and construction phases of any new facility.

The courthouse committee will be comprised of the resident State Senator (who will serve as chairperson), the chair of Darlington County Council, the Clerk of Court, the Probate Judge, the Circuit Court judge, the Family Court judge, one physically disabled public citizen (appointed by the council chair), and one citizen with an engineering or architectural background.

Council member Bobby Kilgo moved to add the Darlington County Sheriff and a member of the Darlington County Bar Association to the committee, and council approved these additions.

The Courthouse Committee will render a report and recommendations to County Council no later than one year from the date of this resolution.

Two county departments are set to be combined and reorganized, as the Codes Enforcement and Planning Departments will become the Development Services Department. Under this new marque, the county will name a director of development services and two assistant codes enforcement directors – one for administration and one building official. Current planning director Doug Reimold and codes enforcement director Randy Evans are set to retire in January.
Council approved a cost-sharing grant plan to buy signage for the I-20/340 Industrial Park, wherein the county will pay $25,000 and the Northeast Strategic Alliance (NESA) will pay $25,000 to purchase a sign for the park.

Also receiving approval: a mutual aid agreement between the Darlington County Sheriff’s Office and the Lexington County Sheriff’s Office, a measure to accept maps for the new, smaller MS4 storm water district, and a smoke-free campus policy for all county buildings.

A proposal to restructure county employee vacation pay so that employees accrue time throughout the year – rather than qualifying for a full year’s vacation pay at the outset of each year – was defeated when Kilgo’s motion to bring the issue up for a vote did not receive a second.

Author: Duane Childers

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