LEE COUNTY COUNCIL

PUBLIC HEARING

JULY 31, 2018, 9:30 A.M.

MAIN COURT ROOM – SECOND FLOOR OF THE COURTHOUSE

Members present were Travis Windham, Chairman; David Addison, member; Gordon Eckley, Vice-Chairman; Charles A. Beasley, member; Jackie Josey, member; Ron Fountain, member. Staff present were Alan Watkins, Administrator; Julie Stokes, Assistant Administrator/Clerk to Council; Teresa Brown.  Others present were Bettye Scott, Ruby Gibbs Williams, Gee Whetsel, Ronnie Williams, Michael Kozlarek, Carrie Gass, Betty Toney.

FOIA

 Pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, all individuals requesting notifications were so notified.

PUBLIC HEARING

 TO LEVY AND IMPOSE A ONE PERCENT SALES AND USE TAX, SUBJECT TO A REFERENDUM IN LEE COUNTY, PURSUANT TO THE CAPITAL PROJECT SALES TAX ACT

The public hearing was opened at 9:30 a.m. on a motion made by Vice-Chairman Eckley, seconded by Councilperson Josey.

Mr. Watkins said that the renewal process began several months back with the appointment of penny tax commission, which consists of Ronnie Williams, Derrick Brown, Deborah Wilson, Ken Currie, and James Brailsford. They had a series of meetings and met with persons requesting funds for various projects.

The list has been finalized by the commission and being presented today.

Mr. Watkins said that Michael Kozlarek has handled and coordinated all meetings with the commission.

Mr. Kozlarek said the commission had a series of meetings and met with various agencies and was presenting the final list of projects today. He said that the Resolution was part of the Ordinance that was being approved today.  He said that using the 2017 population estimate, the County would receive 79.9%, the City of Bishopville would receive 18.1% and Lynchburg would receive 2% of proceeds of the penny sales tax.

Page 2, Lee County Council Public Hearing, July 31, 2018

Mr. Watkins said that if the Ordinance is approved for third reading, this item will be on the ballot in the November election.

Mr. Kozlarek said that Council cannot amend the list of projects because the commission approved them.

Chairman Windham said that if the Council doesn’t do this and this doesn’t pass, the County will probably have to impose a tax increase.

Michael Kozlarek said that the estimated amount of money the commission came up with is just an estimate based on current collection of existing capital penny. He said the projects will be funded in the order as the money comes in.

He said the County could borrow up to $5 million in advance to start projects before money comes in. He said that for county to generate that amount of revenue, the county would have to generate 100 mills of tax. He said that 70% of the revenue will come from the interstate.

Mr. Kozlarek said that statutorily, which is eight years, the renewal can be 7 years. The County will lose $900-950,000 because we will be losing a year’s worth of revenue.  He said that this will take effect on May 1, 2021, which will be a continuation of the penny already in place.

Councilman Addison asked if the money could only be spent for those items. He also asked about the wording of related costs on the ballot information.

Mr. Kozlarek said that this gives citizens an ideas of what they’re voting for.

Chairman Windham said that since this will not be effective until May, 2021, it is hard to be specific as to what will be needed at this time.

Councilman Addison said that the wording could be simplified. Mr. Kozlarek said that he considers the length of the wording on the ballot and said that citizens do not want too much information to read through.

Councilman Addison said that transportation was cut to the point that it will be probably be out of funding.

Mr. Watkins said that there were two line items for transportation: 140,000 and 60,000 which equals to $200,000, which was designated over the first eight years on the penny sales tax.  He said to date, $83,000 of the $200,000 has been spent and they have done everything they could have requested up to this point.  He said that $110,000 was left in the first penny that can be used to acquire federal funding.  With this said, Lee County Transportation would have over $800,000 to spend to operate.  He said they requested funding of $800,000 to provide for future and existing needs.  Mr. Watkins said the County already commits $40,000 in operations and has done since the inception of transportation program. Mr. Watkins said that this penny sales tax money cannot be used for operations.  He said that $110,000 is already in place to match with federal dollars to draw down $500,000.  Mr. Watkins said there is plenty of money for transportation to accomplish the transportation goals.

Page 3, Lee County Council Public Hearing, July 31, 2018

Chairman Windham said that a log of the number of riders would be helpful to council to see how much the transportation system is used in the county.

PUBLIC COMMENT

Betty Toney – She wanted to confirm that the new penny will end in 2028. Mr. Watkins said that the County could only put on the ballot in general election years.  Mr. Watkins said that there are many grant opportunities for public safety to seek dollars, which is a big reason that public safety is on the list.  He said that 15 out of 16 projects have been completed with the current penny.  He said this frees up bond money, which is another reason to do it earlybfor budgetary purposes.

She said that with the projects not being funded this time, these projects would have to wait until 2028. She said the County may possibly have a new a list of projects for 2026.

Mr. Watkins said that most of this is dedicated to public safety because this is the only source of money that we have to do it with.

Chairman Windham said the county allocated for the fire station in Lucknow, but we are not doing anything now because we don’t have the money for a fire truck.

Mr. Watkins said the County will likely complete all of these projects.

Chairman Windham reiterated again that this was a recommendation by this capital penny sales tax commission to council.

Betty Toney commented so there’s no need for any group to ask for funding because this penny sales tax is tied up with emergency vehicles and public safety stuff.

Mr. Watkins responded that the County has built fire stations to help with people’s home insurance because fire stations were five miles or less located from their home.

Ruby Gibbes – she said that three outside agencies presented information to the committee. She asked if the committee consider the agencies could get funding or is feasible for these agencies to plan for future purchases.  She asked if the commission considered any overage to do any of the projects that will not be funded.

Chairman Windham said the current penny project did not complete every project listed.

Councilman Beasley said that if any money comes in extra or there is extra money available after all projects are done, then the council could vote to appropriate the money, as long as it’s not operations.

Ruby Gibbs said that it is unfair because these agencies took the time to plan, and there’s going to be leftover money.

Mr. Watkins said that it has to be a defined project because the voters have to know exactly what they are voting for.

Councilman Addison asked if there was a possibility that money will be left over and will the leftover money roll over into the next project.

Page 4, Lee County Council Public Hearing, July 31, 2018

Carrie Gass – she said that once the tax is levied, it’s hard to take it off.

She asked how the County is using the present penny sales tax. She asked when the gym is going to be remodeled.  She asked how the money is being spent.

She mentioned the “outhouses” at Garrett Field. She mentioned there have been complaints about the splash pads with no water pressure.  She asked if there were grants to do these things.

Mr. Watkins said that remodeling of the old Bishopville High School will not take place under the current penny, but is listed as Number 7 on the new penny sales tax project.

Mr. Watkins said that both Dennis and Grammar School Parks have portapotties and that we should hold everyone to the same standard.

With no further comments, the public hearing was closed at 10:30 a.m. on a motion made by Vice-Chairman Eckley, seconded by Councilman Fountain. Chairman Windham called for the vote, and motion carried.  All voted in favor.

LEE COUNTY COUNCIL

CALLED MEETING

JULY 31, 2018

MAIN COURT ROOM – SECOND FLOOR OF THE COURTHOUSE

 OPEN MEETING, INVOCATION AND PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE TO THE FLAG

 Chairman Windham welcomed everyone to the meeting and Vice-Chairman Eckley gave the invocation and led the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag.

REQUEST FOR MOTION ON ADOPTION OF RECOMMENDED AGENDA

 Councilman Beasley made the motion to approve the agenda as mailed. Vice-Chairman Eckley seconded the motion.  Chairman Windham called for the vote, and motion carried.  All voted in favor.

REQUEST FOR MOTION ON ADOPTION OF THIRD READING APPROVAL OR ORDINANCE

 TO LEVY AND IMPOSE A ONE PERCENT SALES AND USE TAX, SUBJECT TO A REFERENDUM IN LEE COUNTY, PURSUANT TO THE CAPITAL PROJECT SALES TAX ACT

Vice-Chairman Eckley made the motion to approve for third and final reading. Councilperson Josey seconded the motion.  Chairman Windham called for the vote, and motion carried.  All voted in favor.  Councilman Addison said that he still has reservations about related items wording on the ballot.

Page 5, Lee County Council Public Hearing and Minutes, July 31, 2018

ADJOURN

The meeting was adjourned at 10:34 on a motion made by Councilman Addison, seconded by Councilperson Josey.

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CHAIRMAN                                                                       VICE-CHAIRMAN

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CLERK TO COUNCIL                                                      MINUTES APPROVED