Saturday, June 7, 2014

Agenda Items for June 9 City Council Meeting

 SPECIAL NOTICE:  City Manager Richard Pearce resigned effect Friday, June 6.  Stuart Bedenbaugh has been appointed  by City Council as Interim City Manager.
JUN 28 FIREWORKS EXTRAVAGANZA:  Sam McGill, Vice President and General Manager of the South Carolina Office of Atlantic Broadband, has a great summer event to share with Council at this meeting.  He will have with him Debra Oehlberg, who is the winner of a contest to bring a fireworks event to Aiken. This contest was part of the Discovery Channel Family of Networks known as Destination America. Fireworks are scheduled to be held on Saturday, June 28 at the Western Carolina Jaycees Fairground on U. S. Highway #1, the site of our annual Fall Western Carolina Fair. We understand this family event should include a small midway for all of the family to enjoy as well.  Aiken County and the City of Aiken are collaborating with Atlantic Broadband to help make this June 28 event a real success.  Sam has a presentation to share with City Council. 
POTENTIAL CONCEPT FOR REDEVELOPNG THE ALLEY:  We have been working on a potential concept for the redevelopment of The Alley in downtown Aiken. This potential work would be part of the next phase of our downtown streetscape work.  This work would be in addition to having already undergrounded the remaining overhead wiring on Newberry Street. We also expect the donation soon of three concrete outdoor tables from Bridgestone North America.  George Grinton will be with us Monday night to discuss a potential concept plan prepared by Architect Cam Scott of Cheatham, Fletcher & Scott.  Various sources of Capital Sales Tax Project funds for Bee Lane landscaping, utility undergrounding wiring, and a potential for matching funds from SCE&G under their franchise agreement should help us cover projected construction costs.  In order to try to have as little disruption as possible, this project can be done one-quarter at a time. This approach would allow work to be done at night to allow businesses to operate during normal business hours. Our preliminary conversations with our downtown merchants and food service providers, along with area restaurant owners, has generated a good bit of interest in this potential project. 
APPOINTMENTS AND DISCUSSIONS TO CITY BOARDS,        COMMISSIONS, AND COMMITTEES: There were no appointments at the last City Council meeting. 
SECOND READING OF AN ORDINANCE TO SET THE      MILLAGE RATE FOR FISCAL YEAR 2014-15:  Every spring, Council adopts a budget for the following fiscal year. By a separate ordinance, Council sets a millage rate. Under state law, City Council can adjust the millage rate annually to account for inflation. To ensure proper revenue to pay our employees a 2% cost of living raise we need a millage adjustment. We have checked with the State Budget & Control Board. Council has the authority to adjust our millage rate to 63.3 mills, which will cover the costs of this cost of living adjustment for our employee salaries.  A 1.3 millage adjustment will increase city revenues by about $175,000. For an owner of a house worth $100,000 this millage adjustment will cost an additional $5.20 per year. One additional consideration Council will need to include in your discussion of this agenda item is what adjustments you want to make to the Public Safety Department budget for salaries. Depending upon the adjustment amount, a millage rate can then be made.  
SECOND READING OF AN ORDINANCE TO APPROVE THE FY 2014-2015 BUDGET:  Council will find with this agenda a proposed FY 2014-15 budget. This revised version includes items of interest and comment in our April budget workshop sessions. 
As we have done in past years, our budget consists of three major sections: 
General Fund 
Enterprise Fund (Water and Sewer Utilities) 
Other Funds:
Aiken Theatre
Stormwater Fund
Local Accommodations Tax
Sunday Alcohol Sales Fund
Victim Services Fund
Aiken Municipal Airport
Community Development Block Grant
Ventures Industrial Park
Northside Redevelopment
Crosland Park 
Our total budget for these funds is $49,997,712. Total expenditures in the FY 2013-14 budget were $51,707,542. 
The main projects for this year's expenditures are funds to complete our new water plant on Silver Bluff Road [$1,400,000]. This project has been on our long-term capital construction list for the past few years. Our Engineering and Utilities Department projects this plant to be on line for the summer 2015 watering season. 
We have sufficient holding accounts to borrow funds to cover this expense and then repay these borrowed funds through annual utility system depreciation funds. 
The rest of the story; however, is money we will need to spend on necessary items to continue to do business. For example, we will need to continue our replacement of electronic sender units for our water meters. This project will cost an additional $1,000,000 to replace more of these units. 
Also, as part of the FY 2014-15 goals set by Council at your Horizons Retreat, we will also pursue the timeline for Capital Sales Tax Projects, Second Round [CPST II] which include: 
City Recycle Center Redevelopment

Open Space Preservation

Stormwater Runoff Abatement

Eustis Park Senior-Youth Center Site Selection/Preparation

Northside Recreation Facility




 In addition to these projects, some of our major purchases include:

Eleven (11) ADPS vehicles

Firefighter self-contained breathing apparatus

Fire Rescue Truck

Public Service Landscaping Equipment

Garbage Trucks

Grapple Truck

Yard Trash Trailer

Recreation Landscape Equipment

Rye Patch Improvements

Shaws Creek Machinery

Silver Bluff Water Plant

Water Meters

Sewer System Maintenance

Lift Station Maintenance




This proposed budget has a 2% salary adjustment included for all employees. State law allows Council to adjust our real property millage rate to take into account inflationary costs to do business. A 1.3 millage adjustment significantly helps fund this salary adjustment. Depending on the results of our first quarter review of revenues and expenditures, we will also seek merit bonuses for high-performing staff. We will potentially receive FEMA reimbursement funds that could be used toward this merit pay recognition. 
SECOND READING OF AN ORDINANCE TO ADOPT THE AIKEN COUNTY HAZARD MITIGATION PLAN:  In 2010 Public Safety worked with Aiken County and the Lower Savannah Council of Governments to update the County Hazard Mitigation Plan. This plan represents our commitment to reduce risks posed by natural hazards and serves as a guide for the South Carolina Emergency Management Division's funding prioritization and our mitigation goals. With this plan in place, we will be able to apply for Hazard Mitigation Grant money to assist us with several projects. 
ANNUAL AIKEN’S MAKIN’ EVENT/GREATER AIKEN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE:  We have again received the annual request from our Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce to allow them the opportunity to close the entire west bound lane of Park Avenue from Union Street to Chesterfield Street in order to hold the 38th Annual Aiken's Makin' festival. They also want to close half of the eastbound lane of Park from Union to Chesterfield as well.  This year's festival will be held from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, September 5, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, September 6.  Exhibitors will again set up on the paved portion of Park Avenue.
FIRST READING OF AN ORDINANCE TO ANNEX PROPERTY AT 419 PINE STREET AND ZONE IT RS-6 RESIDENTIAL SINGLE FAMILY:  Virgil and Fannie Kanagy own property at 419 Pine Street. Since this property is contiguous to the city limits, they have requested to be annexed into the City of Aiken. By doing so, they are seeking the range of city services that will then be available to them, including in-city water rates, garbage pickup, recycling, sewer service, and no longer having to pay fire fees.  Planning Commission met May 13, 2014 and considered the Kanagy's request. By a 5-0 vote, Planning Commission has recommended that City Council annex this property into the city limits. 
APPROVAL OF REQUEST FOR EXTENSION OF LETTERS OF CREDIT FOR THE RIDGE AT CHUKKER CREEK SUBDIVISION:  William H. Short, Jr., representing FPA, Inc. d/b/a The Ridge at Chukker Creek, Ronald Monahan, and Iris Freeman, has provided a letter after our last meeting requesting that City Council pass a Resolution extending the July 4, 2014 expiration date for their Letters of Credit for this development. Copies of the letters are attached for Council's reference.  We have also included the minutes from our last meetings with developer Ron Monahan and others connected with this development.They are also providing an updated "punch list" of items completed as well as their "to-do" list of work to complete in this development. We understand from Mr. Monahan's attorney, and as you heard from Real Estate Broker Wayne Smith, this development is up for sale, so the developer is motivated to get these improvements completed. 
APPROVAL TO HIRE AN OPERATIONS MANAGER TO OVERSEE CAPITAL PROJECTS SALES TAX PROJECTS:  In our work session discussions, we discussed a potential opportunity to use Capital Projects Sales Tax (CPST) funds to support a newly created, full-time position in the City Manager's Office to be known as Operations Manager. The purpose of this position is to coordinate the concept development, design, site location, and construction of projects listed in our CPST II and CPST III projects lists. While Engineering and Utilities Director, George Grinton, will continue to champion the utility infrastructure upgrades we have previously discussed and placed on a timeline, we see the Operations Manager as the person to ensure that all Capital Sales Tax Projects are permitted and ready to proceed when construction funds are received.  This position would be considered supervisory, and fall in our $50,772 to $88,670 salary range, depending on the experience of the applicant. 
APPROVAL OF A CERTIFIED PUBLIC ACCOUNTING FIRM TO CONDUCT THE ANNUAL CITY AUDIT:  It is time for Council to approve a Certified Public Accounting firm to conduct our state-law required annual audit. Finance Director Kim Abney reports their Request for Qualifications drew interest from 9 different auditing firms, including our current auditors, Elliott Davis, LLC.  After careful consideration and a discussion about whom to use, we recommend approval of the Atlanta Certified Public Accounting firm of Mauldin and Jenkins. This firm is now auditing Augusta-Richmond County, Colleton County, and the City of Beaufort.  In addition they have followed Elliott Davis LLC on other audits and the transition of firms has proceeded very smoothly. As we have done in the past, and in line with our Request for Qualifications, this award for professional services will be for audits of three fiscal years: 2014-15; 2015-16; and 2016-17.
TUESDAY, JUNE 10 AT 6:00 P.M.:  Our Planning Commission will hold its regular monthly meeting in Council Chambers, Second Floor of City Hall, 214 Park Ave., SW.  A work session is scheduled for Room 204 at 5:00 p.m.   
         WEDNESDAY, JUNE 11 AT 10:00 A.M.: The Aiken Corporation Executive  Committee gathers  for                     its regular monthly meeting in Room 204, City Hall, 214 Park  Ave., SW. 
THURSDAY, JUNE 12 FROM 5:00 P.M. TO 7:00 P.M.:  Every Thursday from June 5 to August 7, our Farmer’s Market will set up in our Historic Downtown.  Fresh produce from local farmers will be available for purchase.  Live music will also be featured.  Many of our downtown merchants also plan to have extended hours each of these Thursdays. 
         MONDAY, JUNE 23 AT 7:00 P.M.:  City Council will hold its regular fourth  Monday meeting in Council        Chambers, Second Floor of City Hall, 214 Park Ave.,  SW. 
For other events and happenings around Aiken, be sure to visit A community events calendar can be found at this website. 
WINTER STORM PAX CLEANUP UPDATE:  Representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Administration [FEMA] have notified us that our 30-day Category A Debris Removal Reimbursement funds have been obligated to pay to us.  Under normal procedures, they pay these obligated funds to South Carolina, which then forwards payment to us.  We expect to be reimbursed $562,076, [85% of our submitted expenses of $661,266.70].  We are preparing paperwork to submit for reimbursements of expenses accrued from our 31- to 90-day Category A, Debris Removal Reimbursement, [reimbursed at up to 80% of expenses] and our Category B, Emergency Protective Measures, [reimbursed at up to 75% of expenses].  We are waiting to learn what South Carolina will pay of our remaining expenses that are not being reimbursed by the Federal Government.  Governor Haley has requested our State Legislature set aside funds to reimburse local governments for Winter Storm PAX expenses. 
Through May 28, City workers have collected curbside storm debris totaling 137,528.49 cubic yards.  Our yard waste collections are getting back to normal, but remain very busy.  
We continue to offer free mulch on a first-come, first-served basis for our residents.  This mulch pile is at Citizens Park.  Pick up times are from sunup to sundown, Monday through Saturday.  Residents must load and transport the mulch they get themselves.  
ACCOMMODATIONS TAX:  The SC Department of Revenue has identified approximately $60,000 in additional Accommodations Tax money for distribution by our committee.  Our Accommodations Tax committee is scheduled to meet and is expected to recommend potential disbursements for these additional funds.  
SAFE COMMUNITIES UPDATE:  Our Safe Communities initiative has received an Award of Excellence from the MASC South Carolina Community Development Association.  Our program was recognized for significantly reducing crime.  Other South Carolina communities have been contacting us about our program.  We have met with representatives from Orangeburg, Blackville, and Conway to share our Safe Communities work in Aiken.    
HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION REIMBURSEMENT:  The SC Department of Revenue has informed us that our FY 2013-14 Homestead Exemption Program reimbursement is $435,434.06.  This amount is about 2.5% above what we anticipated receiving.  This program provides property tax relief to citizens aged 65 and older, who are blind, or who are disabled. 
FINANCE DEPARTMENT SAVINGS:  Later this summer, our Finance Department is scheduled to convert to a paperless payroll system.  An electronic pay stub will be sent to an employee-provided email address.  Approximately 20 employees without an email address will continue to receive a paper payroll stub.  We expect a paperless system to save money on staff time, paper, envelopes, and printing supplies.   
BID OPENINGS:  Recently, we completed several sealed bid openings.  After staff review of the submitted documents, we have made awards to the following lowest responsible bidders: 
         The Liquid Alum water treatment chemical bid was awarded to Affinity Chemical,  LLC for $10.25 per hundred            pounds. 
         The Sodium Fluoride water treatment chemical bid was awarded to Brenntag Mid-South, Inc. for $82.00 per       hundred pounds. 
         The Liquid Zinc Orthophosphate water treatment chemical bid was awarded to  Carus Corporation for $161.46          per 30-gallon drum. 
         The Chlorine water treatment chemical bid was awarded to Brenntag Mid-South,  Inc. for $39.00 per hundred        pounds. 
         The Potassium Permanganate water treatment chemical bid was awarded to  American  International Chemical       for $162.59 per five-gallon pail. 
         The Calcium Hydroxide Slurry water treatment chemical bid was awarded to  Colonial Chemical Solutions, Inc.      for $2,061.00 per truckload. 
         The Solar Salt water treatment chemical bid was awarded to Brenntag Mid-South, Inc. for $134.80 per ton. 
         The Bagged Lime water treatment chemical bid was awarded to Colonial Chemical Solutions, Inc. for $18.50       per hundred pounds. 
The Removal of Winter Storm PAX Hanging Limbs in City Parkways bid opening will be Thursday, June 12 at 2:00 p.m. in Room 204 of City Hall, 214 Park Avenue, SW. 
The Tree Trimming and Limb Removal from City Parks bid opening will be Thursday, June 19 at 10:00 a.m. at the Woodward House, 1072 Banks Mill Road. 
COMMERCIAL PROJECTS UPDATE:  The following permit applications are under review by our Inspections Division: 
                           Family Medical Center Aiken Dialysis Upfit project, 600 Medical Park Drive 
                           O’Reilly Auto Parts Remodeling project, 1012 Gregg Highway 
                           Arby’s Exterior Remodeling project, 2001 Whiskey Road 
The following projects are under construction after having received approval from our Inspections Division: 
         Aiken Polo Club Pavilion, 423 Mead Avenue 
         Powderhouse Landing Pool and Equipment Building, 222 Sierra Drive 
         Planet Fitness Upfit project, 2531 Whiskey Road 
         Jordan Family Chiropractic Clinic, 673 Silver Bluff Road 
         Applebee’s Exterior Remodeling project, 1360 Whiskey Road 
Zaxby’s, 130 University Parkway, has been issued a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy by our Inspections Division. 
Beverly Klopfer complimented Engineering and Utilities employee Anthony Savage for his politeness and professionalism repairing a water leak.  Ms. Klopfer appreciated the job well done by Anthony and the rest of our crew. 
Jacqueline Miller wrote to thank our WSD crew for repairing the sewer line near her house.  She appreciated their politeness and professionalism. 
Albert Bostwick thanked us for our work to improve storm water drainage at Two Notch Road and Grace Avenue. 
John Heaton called to thank our staff for cleaning our storm drain near his house on Lancaster Street. 
Finance Director Kim Abney has received a nice thank you about her work with the Aiken Technical College Spring Advisory Committee.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Dick's Picks for the Republican Primary June 10th

 The Republican Primary is on June 10 and there are many candidates on the ballot. Many of you have asked for my recommendations in the past so here they are for this very important election.

U.S. SENATOR- There are several candidates running against Senator Lindsey Graham. None of them has the experience or skill to effectively replace him. Please vote for Senator Graham on June 10. I also recommend Tim Scott who was appointed in 2012 to replace Jim DeMint. He is very impressive and will continue to effectively represent the interests of South Carolina.

GOVERNOR-  Nikki Haley has done very well and should serve a second term.

LT. GOVERNOR- I strongly recommend Pat McKinney. A businessman not just another politician. He also gets along very well with Governor Haley.

     STATE TREASURER- I confess that I supported Curtis Loftis last time but it was a terrible mistake He conned us all! Please vote for his opponent -Brian Adams.

     superintendent OF EDUCATION- I recommend Charmeka Childs.
     She was Deputy Superintendent under Superintendent Mick Zais who
     has endorsed her. I trust his judgment.
     AIKEN COUNTY COUNCIL DISTRICT 2-   I recommend Camille Furgiuele.
     U.S. CONGRESS- 2ND  DISTRICT- I recommend Joe Wilson.

Please vote on Tuesday June 10th.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Re-elect Senator Lindsey Graham

The following letter appeared in the Aiken Standard and is published here for those who may not have seen it.  Dean Sackett is a retired U.S Navy Rear Admiral.

I believe that we should return U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., to the Senate and recommend that you vote for him in the Republican primary on June 10.
Graham is a proven performer and a particularly effective representative of the people of South Carolina. He has proven this in his actions, not just in words and promises. He has placed the interests of taxpayers ahead of politics. He supports a strong military and national defense.

He is one of the few members of Congress in Washington, D.C. who have actually served in the military on active duty and he is the only member of Congress who is currently serving in the reserves or guard.

Read more: Letter: Graham should be re-elected | Aiken Standard

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This experience provides him a unique perspective. He is a champion and very effective supporter of the men and women in the active duty armed forces, the reserves and the national guard, the very people who have preserved our freedoms, sometimes at heavy cost.
He wrote the law and was instrumental in passing the legislation that expanded health care benefits for our troops and their families, keeping promises previously made by the government; The fact that on occasion he has placed the interests of the American people and his own principles ahead of those of his party is a strength, not a weakness. I submit we need more like him in the Congress.
He is a proven performer, experienced, action-oriented senator, and courageous and conservative legislator, whose actions support his rhetoric.
It is most important that you vote in the primary election on June 10, and I strongly recommend that you vote to return Graham to the U.S. Senate.

Dean Sackett

President George W. Bush has Class

At first it was thought the girl
was one of his daughters.

Green and white shirt, black tee shirt, gray pants
and tennis shoes.
How many people know that President Bush hosts
a few Wounded Warriors at his ranch
10 weekends every year?
Every year! All expenses paid!
Not what you expect to see, huh?
There he is, dancing with a "Wounded Warrior"
who has lost a leg but still dances.

We will NEVER see a story or picture
like this from NBC, CBS, ABC, The New York Times,
or The Washington Post.

God Bless America