Financial housekeeping tops meeting agenda

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Amanda Phipps, For The Lancaster News

The city of Lancaster will continue to use cash reserves to pay the municipality’s bills  in the upcoming months.

Finance director James Absher provided the information to City Council during his monthly report at the Tuesday, Sept. 24, council meeting. 

Absher said that practice will end once the city receives this fiscal year’s funds in January. 

The fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 29. Absher said the city will have to use approximately $2 million in reserves to cover their costs until Dec. 31.

However, Absher was not alarmed. He said the city’s current budget includes $12,324,940 in revenue, which is equal to the expenditures. 

“The budget and revenue is coming in as expected,” he said.

Also, the cash reserves will be repaid once the new tax revenue is received. Lancaster City Councilman John Howard said it was a matter of moving funds from savings to checking and then putting it back.

“Fortunately, due to some good planning, we no longer have to borrow outside money to satisfy the obligations of our general fund,” Howard said.

Council also unanimously approved second reading of an ordinance amending the City of Lancaster’s previous operating budget, which is in the process of being closed out. The change will assure the city books can be adequately audited. 

The amendment calls for an increase of $54,355 to the solid waste fund and an increase of $6,700 to the internal service fund for a total  $61,055. 

City of Lancaster Administrator Helen Sowell said the increases are due to costs associated with the city garage/vehicle maintenance and operating/transfer costs at the transfer station in fiscal 2012-13. The transfer station hauls solid waste for the city and county to the Lee County landfill. 

New employees 

The City of Lancaster welcomed six new employees during the City Council meeting Tuesday. 

Jordan Hinson, Johnny Stradford, Brandon Pierce, Steve Faulkenberry, Earl Gainey and Matthew Reese were welcomed to the city by Public Works director Jerry Crockett and Solid Waste director Marty Cauthen. 

Mayor Joe Shaw shared some advice with the new members. 

“Work hard and prepare yourself,” he said.  

Executive session

After meeting in executive session, Council voted 6-0 to appropriate $687,000 from the city’s gross revenue fund for the rehabilitation of the one million gallon water storage tank behind the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control office on DHEC Road. 

The  site is off Grace Avenue and adjacent to the Lancaster Air-Rail Industrial Park. 

Councilwoman Sara Eddins left and was not present during the executive session.

“This tank has been offline for more than 10 years when the city stopped buying water from Springs Industry,” Sowell said.

City officials agreed to bring the tank back online now that the S.C. 9 Bypass industrial park is being developed, she said. 

The tank will provide additional water pressure to the park. The tank work is set to start in February 2014 and be finished by June 30, 2014, to hopefully coincide when the park’s first tenant – Fancy Pokket – comes on line.

“The city and county have worked together over the past few months to develop the park and meet the water and sewer requirements of Fancy Pokket,” she said.