County Council holds special meeting
By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer, email@example.com
Darlington County Council convened a special meeting March 21 and voted on – or discussed – several pressing ordinances involving economic development, recreation, the Fire District, and environmental services.
Council talked over the broad strokes of a plan to establish a dedicated economic development fund with revenues solely derived from FILOT (Fee In Lieu of Tax) arrangements between the county and industries or businesses.
County treasurer Belinda Copeland gave council a run down of Darlington County’s 128 FILOT notices, which should yield a total of $881,679 in projected revenue for fiscal year 2015/16. Copeland cautioned that this figure can be affected by FILOT calculation changes at the SC Department of Revenue. She also noted that only $759,316 has been paid thus far this year, leaving $122,363 outstanding from about 30 FILOT notices.
Council took no action on this item.
Ordinance 16-03, accepting a $5,000 Enforcement Grant from Palmetto Pride, passed final reading unanimously. These grant funds will help the county Environmental Services Department purchase surveillance cameras to help curtail illegal dumping at the county’s 13 garbage and recycling collection centers.
Council passed third and final reading of Ordinance 16-04, allowing the Fire District to use a $1,750 donation from Nestle USA to purchase an ice machine for Station 12 in Byrdtown.
Final reading of Ordinance 16-05 passed by a 7 to 1 vote, allowing the Park, Recreation, and Tourism Department to deposit program revenues into Darlington County bank accounts rather than accounts dedicated to particular offices in Lamar, Hartsville, and Darlington.
This measure will allow for a $30,000 advancement of revenue to fund Rec programs until June 30, 2016. County administrator Terence Arrington and Parks & Rec director Ken McRae said that revenues from athletics and programs would be deposited into a county account to offset and replace this advance.
Council member Wilhelmina Johnson refused to vote in favor of this ordinance, citing a need for more information.
Several ordinances passed second reading:
Ordinance 16-07 increases terms on some county boards and commissions to staggered four-year terms and allows board members to continue serving until their successors are appointed and qualified.
1Ordinance 6-08 implements a county code governing the use of purchasing cards to streamline payments and decrease administrative costs for small purchases.
Ordinance 16-09 includes two parcels of Darlington County land totaling about 85 acres and 100 acres of Florence County land in the joint Darlington County / Florence County Industrial Park as part of the incentive package for Project Beacon, which seeks to construct a solar energy farm on these parcels.
Ordinance 16-10 eliminates old language referencing a defunct “deputy administrator” position as having the authority to designate an animal as dangerous. This ordinance grants that discretion to law enforcement agents and animal control officers.
Ordinance 16-11 eliminates exceptions for temporary registration of mobile and manufactured homes from the county code. Arrington said passing this amendment would save about $7,800 annually in administrative costs, and would end the fruitless pursuit of paper chasing mobile home owners who briefly locate in one county, then pull up stakes and leave before paying owed permit fees, taxes, etc.
Council member Johnson also voted against this ordinance.
Ordinance 16-12, dealing with expenditures from the Hospitality Tax Revenue Fund, was carried over until the FY 16/17 budget process is underway.
One additional item was added to the agenda during the meeting: council granted Fire District Chief Kenny Stratton authorization to buy 5 staff Ford trucks through state purchasing, unless a local vendor could match the state price of about $41,000 per vehicle. These trucks will be paid for through the DCFD’s 5 mill general obligation bond.