Repairs Raise Money Questions

RIDGEWAY (Nov. 20, 2015) – Town Council during their Nov. 12 meeting approved just under $4,000 from the water and sewer fund for repairs to the town’s water tank, sparking a brief discussion about how the cash-strapped town could inject more life into its budget.

The $3,884 will go toward replacing leaking rivets on the tank, as well as cables on top of the tank. Currently, the leaks in the tank limit it to 50 percent capacity. Once the rivets are replaced, the tank can be filled to its standard 80 percent capacity.

“We keep spending money and spending money,” Councilman Donald Prioleau said. “We keep cutting and cutting, starting with the trash. I’ve been here 16 years in April and we’ve never raised taxes, which is good. We cut the Police Department. Somewhere down the line we have to find some revenue.”

Were it not for the large insurance settlement the town received after the roof on the old Ridgeway School collapsed years ago, Prioleau said, the town might very well be in the red today. Part of the answer, he said, might be to expand the size of the small town.

“I brought this up once before: we’re going to have to move our town limit signs and annex,” Prioleau said. “We’re 1-mile long by a half-mile short, and the funds are running out. If we’re going to stay a small town like this, in order to make the budget, we’re going to have to raise taxes, and I don’t want to do that. I don’t really want to annex. But it’s something for us to think about. We’ve got to find ways of trying to generate some funds coming into our budget.”

Mayor Charlene Herring said annexation and other budget-boosting ideas might be a good topic for a future work session.

Police Station

With no interest from the Sheriff’s Office in utilizing the Palmer Street police station as a substation, Council is one step closer to relocating the department into the Century House. But with the back room reserved for event rentals and the three other first-floor rooms occupied, the question is where?

“I’d like to move the Council room into the back room,” Councilman Heath Cookendorfer said. “If Charlene (Herring) would like, move the Mayor’s office to this front room, and move the police station into the existing Mayor’s office.”

The back room has only rented one time this year, Cookendorfer said, for $250. Herring said she would consider the move.

Audit

Herring reported that the Town had received a clean audit report, with no instances of non-compliance and no deficiencies in internal controls.

Rent

Council also reduced the rent for the vacant building at 128 Palmer St. from $300 to $250 a month.

Vacancy

Council’s Nov. 12 meeting marked the first meeting since the resignation of Russ Brown, who has moved from the town limits. Herring said there would not be a special election to fill Brown’s seat. The seat will instead be up for grabs during the town’s April 5, 2016 election, where Prioleau’s and Doug Porter’s seats are also up for re-election. Filing opens in January.