County delays landfill bond

Darlington County Council chair Bobby Hudson (left) presented a plaque to retiring Planning Director Doug Reimold at council's February 1 meeting, recognizing Reimold for 15 years of service to the county. Photos by Samantha Lyles

Darlington County Council chair Bobby Hudson (left) presented a plaque to retiring Planning Director Doug Reimold at council’s February 1 meeting, recognizing Reimold for 15 years of service to the county. Photos by Samantha Lyles

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

Darlington County Council held their regular monthly meeting February 1 and voted to delay final approval of a bond issue that could finance many necessary improvements and repairs at the county landfill and Environmental Services Department.

Last month, 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.

Citizen Levern Gee addressed council about problems with Gee Valley Drive, which spurred another discussion about the county's legal restrictions regarding using public money to repair private roads.

Citizen Levern Gee addressed council about problems with Gee Valley Drive, which spurred another discussion about the county’s legal restrictions regarding using public money to repair private roads.

Following the motion of council member Bobby Kilgo, council voted to place the bond ordinance on the pending list until the completion of a solid waste management study for the landfill and Environmental Services Department. The county has contracted architecture and engineering firm Michael Baker International (MBI) to conduct this study at a cost of $81,590.94, with a completion date estimated around mid May.

In a related matter, council discussed the ongoing problem of citizens dumping garbage outside the fence at numerous county convenience centers. Environmental Services director Renee Howle told council this occurs every day, and she provided photos of illegally disposed items ranging from trash bags to TVs and tires. Some on council spoke in favor of placing security cameras around the convenience sites to help catch offenders and provide video evidence for prosecution.

Council later approved first reading of an ordinance allowing for the receipt of a $5,000 Palmetto Pride grant to help with litter enforcement.

Also on the agenda, council granted final approval to 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 money will be used to defray non-salary expenses (of which the county pays 100-percent) at the rate of $2,000 per officer.

During citizen’s comments and personal appearances, council heard from Tony Capers and Levern Gee, both of whom were seeking help from the county to repair degraded residential roads.
Gee was accompanied by several residents of Gee Valley Drive, a private road that has sustained significant damage from recent months of heavy rain. Gee said the damage was exacerbated by what he called “county water” flooding the road. He asked for road tile and dirt to help divert the water flow and restore normal road use for area residents.

Capers appealed to council on behalf of Lide Springs Road residents who are virtually cut off from emergency services, school buses, and postal delivery when the private road floods out. Capers detailed several medical emergency situations where Lide Springs Road residents have waited for upwards of half an hour for help when ambulance drivers attempted to access their neighborhood from the west, only to find the road blocked off, legally, by a hunting club.

Darlington County Attorney Jim Cox worked through these matters piece by piece, explaining that the county is prohibited by law from using public money to repair private roads, and it is the county’s coded policy not to adopt a private road into the county system until that private road is brought up to county road standards. Cox also noted that the “county water” on Gee Valley Drive is not coming from a county service line, but is overflow from a natural tributary.

Author: Duane Childers

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