Ridgeway Approves Budget, Water Rate Hikes

RIDGEWAY – Town Council passed final reading on a $576,905 budget for fiscal year 2014-15. That amount includes $217,550 in the general fund and $359,355 in a water and sewer fund. Although a public hearing on the budget was scheduled prior to the meeting, no one signed up to speak. Council also passed first reading to amend Sections 4 and 6 of the Water and Sewer Ordinance that would increase rates on water and sewer by 78 cents per thousand gallons for all customers.

It was announced that the Town received a Rural Infrastructure Authority grant for $220,000 to upgrade its wastewater treatment plant to include changing from disinfection with chlorine to UV disinfection and improvements to aeration and flow monitoring. For its part, the Town will have to come up with $18,900 in local funds plus pay for engineering and permits for the project.

Council also announced that the Central Midlands Council of Governments (COG) and the S.C. Department of Transportation (DOT) will once again hold meetings to receive public input concerning truck traffic through downtown Ridgeway to determine the safest route. Mayor Charlene Herring said that while public meetings were previously held on this matter, and that 77 percent of those attending did not want to change the route, she said there were a number of misconceptions that the COG and DOT would like to clear up in continued public meetings.

Following an executive session at the end of the meeting, Council voted unanimously to request bids for the engineering and permitting fees for the upgrades and changes to the Town’s water treatment plant. It also voted to submit an application for a lease agreement with Norfolk South Railroad to lease property located in the middle of the Town and known as the cotton yard.

“We frequently have to call the railroad about the cotton yard because we use it for so many things. So when we called not long ago, the person at the railroad suggested we just lease the property,” Councilman Russ Brown told The Voice. “They gave us a good rate and told us we would be responsible for insurance on it. Our goal is to sign the lease, accept their terms and get the insurance. That’s great for us.”

Brown said that as soon as the mayor signs the contract the Town will release the cost of the lease agreement.