Cotton Yard Lease Faces Third Delay

H-Tax Passes First Reading

RIDGEWAY –The third time was not the charm for a lease between the Town of Ridgeway and Norfolk Southern Railway as Town Council once again tabled a final vote on the agreement during their April 9 meeting.

“We had a contractual question,” Councilman Russ Brown told The Voice this week, “and they responded, but not until 4 p.m., right before the meeting. One of the questions they did not make very clear, as far as terms and length of terms and conditions. And we have a new contact at the railroad and he is kind of playing catch-up. We’ve just got to get one or two things squared away.”

The $300 a year lease demanded by the railroad company would also require the Town to purchase liability insurance for the property at $1,000 a year. Mayor Charlene Herring told Council in December that the railroad company is reviewing leases and properties all across the state, forcing municipalities to either lease the lots and accept liability or see the lots fenced off. In Ridgeway’s case, at least two buildings stand on the property – the police station and the fire station – and the railroad would demand their removal unless the Town agreed to a lease.

Budget

As Council begins preparations for its 2015-2016 budget, Council members presented items for consideration.

Councilman Heath Cookendorfer said he would like to see an itemized breakdown of miscellaneous expenses in this year’s general fund, while Brown said it might be helpful to have someone overseeing the Town’s monthly bank statement and for Council to have that statement included in their meeting information packets.

Focusing on the Police Department, Councilman Donald Prioleau said he would like to see Council come up with funding for body cameras for the Ridgeway’s officers, as well as money for police overtime pay and for a stable of reserve officers or constables to be used on an as-needed basis. Cookendorfer added that he would like the Town to find money for internet service at the police station.

Councilman Doug Porter said Council should be prepared to raise water and sewer rates again this year, as the rates for water from Winnsboro, Ridgeway’s primary supplier, are also going up to 98 cents per 1,000 gallons. Herring also suggested a review of the Town’s business license fee, which she said had not been increased since 1987.

Hospitality Tax

Council also passed first reading on an ordinance authorizing a hospitality tax.

The ordinance caps the tax at 2 percent and only applies to prepared meals and beverages in an establishment or under an establishment’s license.

During Council’s March discussion of the tax, Brown said the revenue could go toward tourism-related, cultural, recreational or historic facilities, as well as highways, roads, streets or bridges providing access to tourist destinations. The revenue could also go toward advertising and promotion of tourism development, and to water and sewer infrastructure serving tourism-related facilities. The funds could go toward preserving the arch on the old school property, and for promoting Pig on the Ridge, Arts on the Ridge and other Town events.

Council will hold second reading at their May 14 meeting.

 

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