Lamar finalizes budget, awaits $500,000 grant
By Samantha Lyles
Lamar Town Council held special called meetings on June 19 and 22 to finalize their budgets for the 2020/21 fiscal year and square away requirements to receive a $500,000 sewer system improvement grant. The meetings were live streamed via Facebook and Zoom, and town officials wore PPE and sat several feet apart in Town Hall’s courtroom.
Regarding those budgets, the town’s income sources include a projected $315,890 from Water and Sewer, $112,000 from the Local Option Sales Tax, $89,668 in franchise fees from Duke Energy, $72,840 in business licenses, $36,834 from garbage collection fees, $21,000 in property taxes, and miscellaneous incomes totaling $767,103.
Town administrative expenses are estimated at $143,165 and income is projected to be $398,379, leaving a positive balance of $255,214. Police Department expenses are projected at $246,930, including salaries of $128,960, with an estimated income of $10,000. This negative balance is offset with $255,214 from the town’s administrative account, leaving a surplus of $18,284.
Also listed as administrative expenses: salaries of $35,467, street light operation of $30,450, professional fees of $20,890, and mayor and council expenses of $11,400.
The Water and Sewer Department budget shows proposed income of $358,724 and expenses of $311,089 – including $104,500 to purchase drinking water from Darlington County Water and Sewer Authority – leaving a surplus of $47,635.
Council approved final reading of these budgets, which will go into effect on July 1, 2020.
Consultant Jannie Lathan, contracted by the town to assist with water and sewer system projects, spoke via Zoom at the June 22 meeting regarding requirements for Lamar to collect a $500,000 grant recently awarded by SC RIA (Rural Infrastructure Authority). The grant will pay to rehab the Zion Pump Station and install 3,200 linear feet of new sewer line, which should help reduce storm water infiltration into the system.
Council approved moving $90,000 (money from SC Department of Commerce designated for grant matching funds) to a new account at – possibly at Citizen’s Bank – dedicated to that purpose. Account signatories will include Mayor Pro Tem Lang Howell and Council members Inez Lee and Angele White Bradley. When this step is completed, Lathan said the town should receive a notice from RIA to proceed with the project.
Lathan said the town can either select an engineering firm or solicit bids from firms interested in designing and engineering the Zion Pump Station rehabilitation. Lamar Mayor Darnell Byrd McPherson received notification of the RIA grant on May 21, so the pump station project must be completed within two years from that date. The first reporting date, where the town shows state officials how the project is progressing, will be October 1, 2020.
Also at the June 19 meeting, Council approved a proclamation recognizing and celebrating “Juneteenth” in the Town of Lamar.