County establishes fund for Economic Development

Beverly Hamlin of Pee Dee Mental Health petitioned County Council for financial support. Photo by Samantha Lyles

Beverly Hamlin of Pee Dee Mental Health petitioned County Council for financial support.
Photo by Samantha Lyles

By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer,

Darlington County Council has moved to establish a dedicated funding source to help the county’s Economic Development Partnership bring new business and industry to our area.

At council’s April 4 meeting, Ordinance 16-06 was taken off the pending list and added to the evening’s agenda at the request of council member Bobby Kilgo. This ordinance, as written, would establish a dedicated account for use in economic development activities, with monies derived from Fee-In-Lieu-Of-Tax (FILOT) agreements between the county and local industry.

Kilgo proposed an amended version of this ordinance, requiring that expenditures from this account be approved by the county administrator and/or the Council Economic Sub-Committee (comprised of three members of Darlington County Council), specifying that 5-percent of revenues from future FILOT agreements be channeled into this fund, and adding a provision that $1 million from the county’s fund balance be earmarked for use in these activities, should the need arise.

“The $1 million would come from the county fund balance. That fund is approximately $12 million. This doesn’t mean that we’re going and spending a million dollars tonight; ee’re setting aside a million dollars in case the Economic Development director needs it to get a new industry in here,” said Kilgo. “Other counties have this, and we’re being hurt by not having this provision.”

Kilgo’s amendment passed by a vote of 7 to 1, with only Mozella “Pennie” Nicholson voting against it. Ordinance 16-06 passed third reading with a vote of 6 to 2, with Nicholson and Wilhelmina Johnson casting “no” votes.

These ordinances also passed third and final 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.

Ordinance 16-08 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. County Administrator Terence Arrington previously noted that 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.

During Citizen’s Comments, Beverly Hamlin of Pee Dee Mental Health again petitioned council to resume some modest funding support of that agency, asking them to consider contributing $2,200 to PDMH during their upcoming budget cycle.

Pamela Prince from the Pee Dee Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Assault requested council’s support designating April as Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month.

Kim Cranford of the Hartsville Community Theater asked for council to intervene for his agency in the Accommodations Tax funding process. Cranford said he mailed his application for A-Tax funding, but the application never arrived and his petition for funding was refused. Council voted to refer the matter back to the A-Tax Committee for consideration. That body will meet April 18 to review Cranford’s request and perhaps recalculate funding figures for this year.

Pastor Christopher Frazier photo by Samantha Lyles

Pastor Christopher Frazier
photo by Samantha Lyles

Also at this meeting, Pastor Christopher Frazier requested council’s help in getting county road Commanchee Drive paved. Frazier said that he and several residents of the Centerville community have met with the County Transportation Commission (the S.C. Senate-appointed body responsible for prioritizing and designating state-funded road projects) and encountered difficulties. He explained that the CTC engineering report indicates drainage issues that would require a large retaining pond, and that a land parcel donated for that purpose was deemed inadequate.

Council voted to refer the matter to Arrington for further research, with more discussion on this issue at council’s May meeting.

Darlington County Council will hold their regular monthly meeting May 2 at 6 p.m. at the Courthouse Annex located at 1625 Harry Byrd Hwy in Darlington.

Author: Jana Pye

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