RW raises water and sewer rates

RIDGEWAY – Ridgeway residents can now ready themselves for higher sewer and water rates after council passed second reading of an amendment to ordinance 3-1001, the water and sewer ordinance of Ridgeway. Historically, the town has not raised rates, but passed along Winnsboro’s rate increases.

Water rates for residential customers within Ridgeway’s town limits will now be $16.25 for the first thousand gallons, and $5.57 for each additional thousand gallons. Sewer rates are now $13.25 for the first thousand gallons and $5.04 for every additional thousand.

Commercial businesses inside the town limits, and residential customers outside of the town limits, now share the same water rate of $21.50 per first thousand gallons and sewer rate of $14.50. Both, are also now required to pay $6.89 for each additional thousand gallons of water and $6.10 for sewage overage.

Businesses outside of the town limits now have to cough up $24.91 for the first thousand gallons and $6.89 for each subsequent thousand gallons. Sewer rates climbed $20.41 for the first thousand gallons and $6.10 for every thousand gallons used past that.

The catalyst for these rate hikes was a budget recommendation from Certified Public Accountant Larry Finney, but according to Councilwoman Angela Harrison, the rate increase is a long time coming.

“This is not a new thing, cause I’m hearing from citizens this is new,” Harrison said. “If you want to go back to the audits from 2007, it clearly stated in every audit that the water rates need to be adjusted to keep our town healthy and water system viable.”

Second reading passed 3-1. Councilman Heath Cookendorfer voted against the rate increase.

Capital Improvements

Next, Council moved to vote on a series of items that were not   included on the agenda.

In June, Council allocated funds for a series of designated capital improvements, and during Thursday’s meeting, it approved a bid of $30,000 in capital improvements that were not on the agenda.

“At a previous meeting, council designated and approved capital improvements in our budget regarding the following items: security cameras, utility building at the waste/water plant and painting the shutters for Town Hall,” Mayor Charlene Herring said.

Council approved a $22,456 bid from Turner Building Systems for a 30 x 36 foot maintenance building for the town’s water facility. That bid came in well under the $30,000 allocated. Other bids for the building were $26,554 and $23,400.

Half of the funds to pay for the building come from the capital improvements budget, and the other half comes from the utility budget.

The town also voted to spend $4,700 for Grant Whaley, who has done work for Ridgeway in the past, to paint both the interior walls downstairs and exterior trim of Town Hall.

Council also approved a bid of $3,032 from Palmetto Blinds to install six inside shutters to town hall – four sets of shutters in the council room and two upstairs to protect the art in the town’s museum from sunlight.

“I’d like to remind you that in the past, Arts on the Ridge has furnished shutters for the town and Pig on the Ridge has furnished shutters for the town,” Herring said.

Patrol Car

Mayor Herring initiated a vote (which was also not on the agenda) to have the Ford Crown Victoria Police Cruiser repainted at the Fairfield County Career and Technology Center. At the technology center, Herring said, labor costs would have been excluded, and the town would only be charged the price of paint.

After both Cookendorfer and Harrison expressed concerns about the value of the car and the cost of the work, the item, which was not on the agenda, was tabled until Council could gather more information.

“Should we wait until we find out what the paint costs? We’re agreeing to do something kind of without knowledge,” Cookendorfer said. “I say we table until we get some additional information.”

“My question is what kind of shape is that car in to begin with, that we’re repainting it. I’d like to know that before we make any decision,” Harrison said.

Victim’s Assistance

Council agreed to return $5,000 to the town’s Victim Assistance fund after Fairfield County turned down the donation. Originally, Council slated $15,000 to go to the Fairfield County Victim’s Assistance and $35,000 to SisterCare, but that split was changed in order for the town of Ridgeway to focus on a marketing campaign with SisterCare.

“Leave it there. That’s what I would like to see, until we find something else worthy of our time,” Harrison said. “And I have more bids to get for the marketing campaign we talked about in our previous meetings.”