Council to discuss bond proposal

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By Jenny Hartley

County Council will discuss forming a committee Monday that will recommend capital projects that should be included in a November referendum.

Council is considering a 1-cent sales tax to pay for projects, such as building a new courthouse, expanding the main library and public works facilities, improving utility lines in the county’s municipalities.

A courthouse could cost at least $20 million. Because the county can’t borrow money for all the projects, the public would vote on a bond package during the general election in November.

The committee council is expected form will have three appointees by County Council and two by Lancaster City Council. The city appointees will include a representative from either Kershaw or Heath Springs.

“Strange, but that’s the way the state law is written,” Lancaster County Administrator Steve Willis said.

The committee will consider capital projects to be included on the ballot and make recommendations to County Council. The committee will prioritize the projects.

The recommendations will come back to council by August, so there’s enough time to get them on the ballot and conduct advertising.

Monday night is just a discussion about forming the committee.

“There will not be a vote until the April 7 meeting,” Willis said.

Other agenda items

Council has a full agenda for Monday night. Members will discuss funding half of a study for the Dave Lyle Boulevard extension project. Lancaster County’s share would be $75,000, with the other half paid by York County.

The proposed extension must be rerouted and re-engineered, since part of the road would go through Sun City Carolina Lakes, which didn’t exist the first time the route was planned. About half of the mileage of the extension is in Lancaster County.

Funding still needs to be found for the project, which has been in talks for years, and was revived last year.

Council will also discuss moving the quick-response Emergency Medical Services station from Tradesville, which serves the Buford area, to the new recreation complex in Buford.

“It would definitely improve response capabilities in a good chunk of eastern Lancaster County,” Willis said.

Heelsplitter up for vote

Council will vote on first reading to rezone property in Indian Land for the Carolina heelsplitter overlay. The overlay district would require developers to keep 100- to 200-foot buffers around projects in the Six Mile Creek basin, where the endangered mussel lives. Developers would have to pay into a conservation bank that would buy property in the Flat Creek area to preserve a heelsplitter population there.

The ordinance has a “sunset” clause of December 2009, so council can make changes in the overlay district but still have regulations for developers to follow through 2009. Development in the Six Mile Creek basin came to a standstill while council, county officials and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife hashed out a compromise to protect the mussel.

Public hearings

Council has five public hearings on its agenda: to receive comments about a development agreement  with Riverchase Estates; tax agreements for Metso Power and PCI Group; $5.6 million in general obligation bonds to buy new fire trucks and air packs for firefighters; and on community needs, especially for those with low to moderate income.

Council meets at 6 p.m. Monday in chambers on the second floor of the County Administration Building, 101 N. Main St.

Contact Jenny Hartley at 283-1151 or jhartley@thelancasternews.com