County advances $3.5 million landfill bond

Citizen Linwood Epps voiced opposition to dissolving Darlington County's Ambulance Commission. Photo by Samantha Lyles

Citizen Linwood Epps voiced opposition to dissolving Darlington County’s Ambulance Commission.
Photo by Samantha Lyles

By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer,

Darlington County Council held their regular monthly meeting January 5 and advanced a bond issue that could finance many necessary improvements at the county landfill and Environmental Services department.

Council approved second reading of Ordinance 15-32, which would authorize the issuance and sale of a general obligation bond not exceeding $3.5 million, the proceeds of which would finance equipment and facility upgrades at the landfill. To the extent available, debt service on this bond would be paid from revenues of the Solid Waste Fund. If those revenues are insufficient to make payments on the bond, millage would be imposed.

In a related matter, council authorized payment of $81,590.94 for architecture and engineering firm Michael Baker International (MBI) to conduct a solid waste management study for the county’s landfill and Darlington County Environmental Services Department (DCES).

Currently the county does not have a solid waste master plan to evaluate needs and maintain equipment and services, and the Environmental Services budget lacks enough money to pay for one, so the MBI project would be a “scope of work” document to give some direction as to which needs should be addressed first.

In conducting this study, MBI will perform several evaluative tasks: develop a project work plan, analyze the county’s waste stream, evaluate the landfill’s existing facility and operations, analyze potential equipment and facilities feasibility, and provide a capital improvement and feasibility report.

County Council members Bobby Kilgo and David Coker expressed reservations about voting next month for final reading on the $3.5 million bond ordinance before this solid waste study has been completed. Kilgo said he would oppose third reading of the bond until council could review the study and evaluate actual needs.

County administrator Terence Arrington advised council to proceed as scheduled with the bond issue, partly to fund MBI’s fee for completing a solid waste study because the county does not have the fee monies available in the DCES budget. He also explained that even if the bond is issued, Darlington County doesn’t have to spend any of the proceeds until council reviews and formally adopts the solid waste study.

Robert Moser of MBI said the study should be complete in the first half of May.

In other matters, council opted against a proposal to dissolve the Darlington County Ambulance Commission, a move that would have required council approval for any ambulance service to operate in the county. This measure, proposed by council chair Bobby Hudson, failed for lack of a second.

Earlier in the meeting, citizen Linwood Epps voiced opposition to this plan, calling it a “slippery slope” and wondering if it could trigger the dissolution of other Darlington County citizen advisory commissions.

Council approved third and final reading of Ordinance 15-30, authorizing the receipt of $23,770 in unclaimed SC 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.

Second reading was approved for 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.

As this was the first meeting of 2016, council elected officers for the new year. Bobby Hudson was re-elected as chair, with Robbin Brock named to a second term as vice chair and Dannie Douglas again serving as chaplain.

Author: Duane Childers

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