WINNSBORO — Fairfield County Council informed the public at its April 22 meeting that a Community Block Development Grant for water and sewer in the Middlesix area has fallen through.
According to Chairman David Ferguson, County grant coordinator Steven Gaither received the signatures and community support needed to secure the grant, but that was not enough.
Since Ridgeway and Winnsboro are the only two Fairfield County entities with the infrastructure to provide sewer, the Middlesix area renovations would add expense to the town, an expense Ferguson said the town informed county council that it could not afford.
According to Ferguson, there are terrible septic tank problems in Middlesix.
David Brown has been trying for years to get CBDG funds and this time it appeared Gaither and the county had all the paperwork and surveys done to receive the CBDG grant for the project, but Ferguson said the town chose not to accept the water and sewer project.
Gaither explained that to the people in Middlesix. The county council has no water or sewer system, so Ferguson said their hands were tied.
In other business, County Administrator Phil Hinely presented a 2013-14 budget that he said contained few major changes other than the proposal of a two percent cost of living adjustment for eligible full-time and part-time employees.
In a letter to county council, he outlined what he termed a fiscally conservative approach to budgeting that keeps the county’s bond rate at A+. Since the county completed several projects including recycling center improvements, a voter registration building, a pardon and parole building a spec building and other capital projects, Hinely said that the county now is working to build up its fund balance.
He said that historically the county has planned several projects at once and then allowed money to accumulate in a sinking fund. Then when funds are such that a project can be completed, the county can do so without having to borrow money.
That approach continued to be feasible, in his opinion because the council’s recent approval of new bonds meant that the improvements to the courthouse and the county administrative building will not come from existing budgets.
Some areas addressed by the new budget include a new locking system for the jail; software recommended by county auditors for the county Code Enforcement Office; a tire changer at the county garage; regularly scheduled maintenance and regularly scheduled vehicle replacement.
Several one-time expenditures with the Fairfield Memorial Hospital, the Board of Disabilities and Special Needs and the Fairfield County Library happened within the past fiscal year, allowing this budget to be lower than last year’s in some areas.
Ferguson also told those present that the county remains in negotiation with the City of Columbia for water for the corridor from the new industrial park to Syrup Mill Road in Ridgeway. In Ferguson’s opinion this situation results from the town not being up to its commitment to provide water to the industrial park.
He said there was language in the contract was disagreeable to the Town of Winnsboro.
“It was an informative meeting (April 17) but we still are at an impasse (with Columbia) right now,” Ferguson said.
He noted that the reservoir was replenishing at a good rate of recharge and that the county could work out an agreement in the short term to get water from it for the industrial park.
“This is our park and our people’s jobs, so this is a major concern of council,” Ferguson said.
A major concern of council is that the park be open and ready for use with proper water and sewer available. Ferguson said they have clients looking at the facility, so the temporary availability of the reservoir water is helpful in that regard. County council will work with Winnsboro Town Council to negotiate an agreement with the City of Columbia to get favorable water rates.
After an executive session, in open session the chairman directed Hinely to contact the Town of Winnsboro for a meeting with the water committee to request water and sewer services for the spec building at Walter Brown II and the first lot in the Fairfield Commerce Center.
Contact Kevin Boozer at 635-4016 ext. 14 or firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @kevinboozer.