Jenkinsville Sidewalk Grant in Limbo

WINNSBORO – Efforts by the Mayor of Jenkinsville to obtain matching funds for a sidewalk grant may have hit a snag this week as County Council’s proposal Monday night essentially put the County Transportation Committee (CTC) on the hook for the whole bill.

Jenkinsville Mayor Gregrey Ginyard last month requested $50,000 in matching funds from the County, in increments of $25,000 over the next two budget cycles. Ginyard told Council then that he would be seeking an additional $50,000, in similar installments, from the CTC to make up the $100,000 in total matching funds necessary to obtain a grant from the S.C. Department of Transportation.

The proposal went through Council’s Policy and Development Committee on Jan. 29, which recommended taking the funds not out of the County’s general fund but instead from District 4’s portion of state money that is distributed to counties for road paving projects. Monday night, the full Council voted to accept that recommendation, but not before Councilman Kamau Marcharia (District 4) offered an alternative motion – to take the money from the general fund.

Chairwoman Carolyn Robinson (District 2) said it was her impression from a CTC meeting last week that, since the state paving money is managed by the CTC, the CTC felt Council’s proposal meant, ultimately, that the entire $100,000 would be coming from the CTC. Marcharia agreed and his motion went to the floor, with Mikel Trapp (District 3) providing a second.

“I just don’t feel comfortable with us doing this,” Councilman Billy Smith (District 7) said. “I think it sets too much of a precedent across the county.”

Councilwoman Mary Lynn Kinley (District 6) asked Marcharia to withdraw his motion and asked Council to consider the original recommendation, then meet with the CTC Tuesday night.

“This is gas tax money that our citizens have paid,” Kinley said. “I think whether it comes out of their pocket or ours, it’s due the citizens of Fairfield County. Until we get a ‘No’ from (the CTC), I say we ought to stick with (the original recommendation).”

Marcharia agreed, although he said he was “not optimistic” the CTC would be on board, and Council then voted unanimously to accept the original recommendation.

Tuesday night, however, Marcharia’s prediction proved accurate.

The CTC

According to David Williams, Chairman of the Fairfield County CTC, his committee manages C Fund money – money from the state gas tax – distributed annually to Fairfield County for road paving and other related projects. Twenty-five percent of that money the CTC sends to the DOT for maintenance of state roads within the county. The rest, the CTC divvies up among projects on a priority list, one road at a time, one district at a time.

The Jenkinsville sidewalk project covers a state road, and Ginyard requested CTC matching funds from the DOT’s 25 percent. Council’s proposal would take the other half of those matching funds from the CTC’s 75 percent, specifically from the portion to be used in District 4.

“Actually, at that point, the funds are totally under the CTC,” Williams said at Tuesday night’s CTC meeting. “Whether it be (from the) 25 percent allotment to the DOT or whether it be part of the road paving fund. It all, bottom line, is CTC money. It’s obvious that Council is not interested in putting skin in the game, currently, as we speak today.”

Taking the County’s share from the CTC, Williams said, would ultimately mean someone in District 4 would not be getting their road paved on schedule. Clifton Hendrix, a CTC member who also lives in the Jenkinsville community, said Council’s current proposal was a break from tradition.

“Historically, when Council has come to us for funds to partner with them, they have provided money and we’ve provided matching funds,” Hendrix said. “It’s always been like that. They have never come to us and said get the money from a particular district to do something in that area.”

Prior to the discussion, the CTC heard some opposition to the entire project. Dawkins resident Jeff Schaffer told the CTC the project was “a joke” and “a waste of County money.”

“We have a sidewalk that starts nowhere and goes nowhere and we have a population of 48 people, I believe, more or less,” Schaffer said. “I think we need to have the money put where most of the people or the majority of the county will get the most use out of it.”

In his neighborhood, Schaffer said, there were plenty of roads that needed asphalt.

The CTC agreed to pony up, however. With only three members of its eight-member committee present and voting, the CTC voted to provide the matching funds, “contingent upon Council, or whoever, comes up with the other $50,000,” Williams said.

The ball is back in the County’s court, to be taken up at their Feb. 23 meeting in time to meet Jenkinsville’s deadline of March 1 to submit the grant application.

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