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County Council tables bond ordinance

To borrow--or not to borrow.

That was the question when Abbeville County Council met Monday night, hearing concerns about borrowing $2 million when nearly $5 million in federal money is reportedly on its way.

After vigorous discussion, Council tabled second reading on the bond issuance, designed to help enhance the County’s public safety capabilities. Council member James McCord voted in opposition to the tabling.

The federal money is part of a stimulus package approved in March, and while the County knows that the money is on its way, County officials do not know at this point exactly how it can be spent.

During the discussion, Council member Charles Goodwin wondered if the County Council could wait until it could find out what guidelines existed on the federal money before acting to pass the bond issuance, which would be used to meet a number of public safety needs, including equipment for County firefighters.

County Director David Garner indicated that he has been working hard to contact legislators with Washington connections, such as Congressman Jeff Duncan, to get more of a grasp on guidelines for the federal money.

Garner said he would like for the bond issuance to be in play before millage for the coming fiscal year is set.

Council passed a resolution authorizing the County Director to enter into a contractual relationship with Herron Trucking of Iva for the hauling of stone products to be used by the Abbeville County Public Works Department for FY 21-22.

In addition Monday night, Council had first reading on Ordinance No. 9 with respect to Industrial Commercial and Municipal Haulers of waste brought to the Abbeville County Landfill.

All first readings are read into the record by the Chairman and a vote is necessary.

Council had a public hearing and second reading on Ordinance 2021-05 to authorize the County to charge and collect a uniform service charge for the improvement of fire protection services provided in Abbeville County.

Council member Charles Goodwin voted in opposition.

Also Monday night, Council had a public hearing and second reading on a County budget ordinance for 2021-03, but with one amendment.

That amendment was suggested by Council member Drew Simpson, who wanted to remove from the budget the position of public safety director.

Council member James McCord and Council chairman Billy Norris voted against the amendment, but voted to pass the budget as amended.

During his County Director’s report, County Director David Garner discussed the recent tornado which touched down in Abbeville County.

“We were very fortunate,” said Garner. The tornado, while it damage a number of buildings, did not produce any reported injuries or fatalities.

Council agreed to have a 50 percent landfill fee reduction through the month of May for people taking storm debris to the landfill.

“It is something they didn’t cause,” said County Council chairman Billy Norris about the debris.

During the public hearings on the ordinance on the bonds and the service charge fee, Mack Beaty and Hal Prince expressed reservations.

Beaty indicated that he would like to see Council display more transparency and more discussion, and more dissemination to the public about plans.

Prince wondered if the bond issuance was necessary, given the federal money slated to come in. He also said that some months ago Council had set aside millage for capital expenses, so that borrowing money would not be needed.

Simpson said Tuesday that he made the motion for the amendment to remove the public safety director post, a new position, because it would have added another salaried position, which he did not think the County needed.

He said he is more concerned about retaining the employees that the County already has.

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