Lamar votes on budget
By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer, firstname.lastname@example.org
Lamar Town Council met June 8 and voted to approve first reading on the town’s $650,000 budget for the 2015/16 fiscal year.
Council member Mike Lloyd noted that the budget is balanced, and it contains several cost increases totaling about 1.5-percent over last year’s budget. These changes include small adjustments in nearly every town department.
“There’s some increases and some decreases,” said Lloyd.
Budget factors include: an $11,000 increase in property taxes; a $20,000 drop in Local Option Sales Tax proceeds; a $19,000 increase in salary expenses at the Lamar Police Department; a $2,000 drop in fine revenues; a $2,300 increase in broker’s tax; a $2,500 decrease in vehicle fuel costs; and a $6,875 fee from DHEC (Department of Health and Environmental Control) related to the Safe Drinking Water Act.
Lloyd said the town will increase water rates by 10-percent to keep pace with water system expenses, and will add a $1 per month charge to recoup tap fee costs related to the DHEC fee. Currently the town charges residents $26.31 per month for 5,000 gallons of water.
Council agreed to hold first reading of the budget at this meeting, and will advertise the public hearing and final reading before the budget is due to be finalized at the end of June.
Citizen Jeronell Bradley of the Darlington County Community Action Agency asked for council’s support and presence at an upcoming event celebrating the Youth Leadership Program at Spaulding Middle School. Bradley said the program is a longstanding after school and summer enrichment program that serves about 15 to 25 children.
“It’s a program that keeps our kids off the streets after school. They get math enrichment, they get tutoring – whatever they are lacking or not doing well in school,” Bradley said.
She invited council to attend a closing ceremony dinner for students graduating from middle school, where kids receive awards, book bags, and prizes recognizing their acheivements and preparing them for high school. Bradley said the evening gives the kids a chance to publicly display the etiquette and poise they learn from the leadership program. The ceremony will be held at 6 pm July 2 at Bethany Baptist Church in Lamar.
“I’ve fought for years to bring (this ceremony) back to Lamar because they were having this program all over the county, and it was our children and their parents who, many times, couldn’t get to the program because of transportation,” said Bradley.