Mayor Gaddy gave a statement explaining how the Town’s Finance Committee, Council and Town Manager Don Wood pored over the budget to cut costs without decreasing services. Even with careful review, the outcome was that the Town was faced with a projected deficit of $867,000 for the upcoming budget year. The Town reduced the deficit by $390,000 by placing a moratorium on staff and council travel budgets and pay raises, eliminating the summer youth program and crime prevention funds. Mini-grants to many agencies from the Town were also cut. A hiring freeze is in place, and future job vacancies will go unfilled, and employees will be required to take 40 hours of furlough during the upcoming year. Capital improvement expenses have no appropriations this year for new equipment or improvements. Unanticipated expenses will have to come out of unrestricted investments.
The remainder, $477,000, had to be passed along as rate increases to residents.
When the meeting proceeded to “Other Business,” council member Marcia Bonds made a motion to take 10 percent of the council members’ yearly salary to put into the general fund.
Miller noted that the budget had already been passed.
“This is out of order at this time,” he said. “Town Council is done by ordinance.”
Bonds replied, “I want to show good faith to our employees.”
Miller said, “This is not on the agenda. This needs to be discussed. Has this been pre-discussed? I made that motion before, and no one seconded it. This isn’t even on the agenda.”
Bonds made a motion to table the item. There was no second. She remade the original motion to give back 10 percent of their salary, and it was seconded by council member Jackie Wilkes.
“How much did we cut employees?” Miller asked. “It’s not on the agenda.”
“I didn’t know it would be on the agenda,” Gaddy said.
“I’m sure you didn’t,” snapped Miller. “Why is it that you want to do this now? So now we are feeling guilty because we raised taxes.”
A vote was called for and the Council voted 4-1 to decrease their salary by 10 percent.
Miller continued, “We come to these meetings to discuss. I guess we have our private meetings. I have a problem with that. We should work together. This should have been brought to the finance committee. We are here trying to take something away from ourselves. We make $60 a meeting.”
“$2,500 a year,” Don Wood clarified.
“You start cutting back to zero,” Miller said. “Ten percent, I don’t have a problem with that. That is out of order. You are not going to take 10 percent from me. We don’t just make decisions like that. That’s what workshops are for.”
In other council business:
• The Fairfield County Chamber of Commerce presented a certificate of appreciation to the Town for their continued support of Chamber programs.
• The Council voted unanimously to approve the rezoning of the Mt. Zion property to allow the property to become a Commercial Planned Development District. A second reading of the zoning change will take place at the July 20 meeting.
• Bobby Jones, a resident of Zion Street, requested and received permission for temporary power along the 100 and 200 block of Zion Street for the third annual Gully Street Festival to be held on Saturday, July 10 from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. He said there will be games for children, three D.J.s and plenty of food.
• A request was made and approved for gratis use of the Old Armory for the New Life Worship Center to host the Salkahactchie group.
• Council Member Bill Haslett asked if Building Inspector Billy Castles could look into using the International Property Maintenance Code to curb the presence of falling down buildings and cars with no license plates, much as Rock Hill does.
“I’m ashamed to show people our town sometimes,” said Haslett. “It’s a disgrace.”
• The Town Council is planning to host the next Intergovernmental Meeting with elected officials from the towns of Jenkinsville and Ridgeway, County Council and school board on July 27.