Ridgeway OK’s Budget with Eyes on New Revenue

RIDGEWAY – Town Council gave the final OK June 13 to their 2013-2014 budget, which includes rate increases for water and sewer customers, increases that originated with the source of Ridgeway’s water, the Town of Winnsboro (see The Voice, May 17). As Council took their last look at the coming budget, which balances the general fund at $198,550 and the water and sewer fund at $337,632, Councilman Russ Brown suggested Council search for more revenues for the 2014-2015 budget.

“Maybe next year we can look at a couple of places where we can save a little money and increase revenues,” Brown said.

Councilman Doug Porter said those revenues just might be right under their noses.

“We haven’t raised water rates by more than $1.50 since 2008,” Porter said. “The increases we’ve passed on were just to offset the increases from the Town of Winnsboro.”

Porter suggested that Council may want to consider a gradual step-up of rates, perhaps by 50 cents per year, over the next several years. This would not only increase revenues, but would help offset costs associated with upgrades and maintenance to the water system.

Mayor Charlene Herring, however, said Council may want to wait out the future of the proposed water authority, which is still in the exploratory stage of development. Should a water authority come into being, she said, rates will go up for certain.

Brown also said that an increase in fines could also help generate revenue, but added that it was not a popular option.

“Nobody wants to hear that,” Brown said.

As Council turned to their review of their strategic plan priorities, talk again turned to revenue.

“There are a lot of things going on in every town around us that we’re not doing and it hurts us,” Brown said.

And one of those things, Herring said, was a hospitality tax.

“More than half the counties in the state have one,” Brown said.

Council also voted to hire Donald Johnson as the Town’s new part-time police officer, replacing Gregory Miller, who left in late May to take a position as a School Resource Officer with the Fairfield County School District, via the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office. Johnson, who is from Winnsboro, previously served as a patrol supervisor for the Chester Police Department from April 2011 to August 2012, the S.C. Department of Mental Health State Police from May 2007 to March 2011 and the Elgin Police Department from February 2004 to April 2007. Johnson also did five years with the U.S. Army Reserve, where he received military police training.

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