Ridgeway up millage, water rates

RIDGEWAY – Ridgeway residents can expect to see increases in their water/sewage and millage rates, after Council agreed to raise both during the final budget reading on June 22.

The uptick in the rates comes on the heels of a series of recommendations made by Larry Finney of Green, Finney and Horton Certified Public Accountants and Consultant.

Council agreed, based on the Councilman Doug Porter’s recommendation, to raise water rates six percent, after the Town of Winnsboro levied a four percent rate increase for Ridgeway. In the past, the Town passed along the same rate Winnsboro charged without an increase for Ridgeway customers. This, Finney said, hindered Ridgeway’s ability to build reserves.

“I talked with the town of Bethune and they didn’t raise rates for six years and then had to jump up and that’s a hard adjustment,” Porter said. “Our major source of revenue is our water and sewer revenue, so that’s my recommendation to go up 6 percent on our rates.”

Council is allowed by law to retroactively raise the millage rate for the last three years. Councilwoman Angela Harrison was unsure of the overall effects raising the millage rate to that extent would have.

“I understand why we need to did this, but I’m just trying to figure out what its cause and effect is going to be,” Harrison said. “Because, if we can change our millage and it’s not going to do anything to our citizens and we’re still going to get that tax credit,then why not change it?”

Mayor Charlene Herring recommended Council raise the Millage the allotted 1.26 percent this year and see the effects before increasing it further.

“Would it be safer to just do the 1.26 until we know how that would affect us this one year, cause you can still catch up next year,” Herring said.

During the budget reading Council re-visited the distribution of the Victim’s Assistance Fund. The town had already agreed to earmark $50,000 of its $60,000 VAF fund, to SisterCare and The Fairfield County VAF, but had not decided how to split the funds up.

After much discussion, Cookendorfer recommended $30,000 to SisterCare, $5,000 to the Fairfield County VAF and keep $20,000 in the Ridgeway VAF, with $10,000 earmarked for victim’s assistance literature.

The recommendation passed 4-1 with Councilwoman Harrison voted against.

Council also voted to designate a series of capital improvements out of their unrestricted funds for the upcoming fiscal year.

“We want to put the Railroad property in there,” Mayor Herring said. “Because again the purchase of the property would be $35,000, surveying will be $2,000 and legals fees will be $3,000. That comes to a total of $40,000, so I’d like that to be under designated capital improvements.”

Next, Council designated $4,700 to paint town hall and $3,150 for six shutters in Town Hall, including upstairs in the Museum to protect the integrity of the artwork.

Councilman Donald Prioleau recommended $6,000 for new security cameras around town, and council approved the motion unanimously. Then, on the recommendation of Councilman Porter, Council allotted $15,000 each from the capital improvements budget and the utility budget to pay for a 30 foot x 36 foot maintenance building for the water company.

Another $7,000 was designated out of the town’s tourism and hospitality funds to purchase the following for the Welcome Center: a $3,600 ventless heat and air system, a $400 desk and a $1000 Photo Booth system. The last $2,000 will be geared towards lights and carriage rides for the Holidays on the Ridge.