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KERSHAW – Kershaw Town Council approved the municipality’s 2014-15 fiscal year budget Monday, June 23, after making an adjustment that will keep local firefighters in compliance and prevent them from going without necessary equipment.
The decision to approve the $3.563 million operating budget was made after a public hearing at which no one spoke.
Before the hearing, Kershaw Mayor Wayne Rhodes told the council the Kershaw Volunteer Fire Department needed an additional $3,000 from the town.
There are 25 members of the fire department and three of these have turnout gear that is either worn out or is below standard.
“I would like to see us give them the $3,000,” Rhodes said. “I don’t like seeing firemen go without equipment.”
Lancaster County would provide an equal match to the fire department, Rhodes said.
Council agreed to provide the $3,000 for the equipment and decided this money would be transferred from the town's water and sewer fund.
Councilwoman Sonya Poole made the motion to approve the budget as presented with the $3,000 addendum for the fire department. Councilman Michael Cook seconded and the council voted unanimously to approve.
Council voted to obtain additional coverage of $1,600 per year for liability insurance at the Kershaw Country Club & Golf Course.
“I found out we don’t have additional insurance at the golf course when we’re serving beer,” Rhodes said. “For the 1600 bucks, we should have it.”
The mayor asked town attorney Mandy Powers Norrell if this was a liability issue.
“It’s a good idea to be covered,” she said. “That’s a real risk.”
The vote was unanimous in favor to obtain the additional insurance coverage.
“I voted to approve,” said Councilman Wade Hunter, “But I was reluctant.”
Hunter’s reluctancy, he said, was because the $1,600 liability insurance fee will also come from the town's water and sewer fund.
“I’m concerned about us continuing to take money out of the water and sewer fund,” he said.
Water bills increase
As its last agenda item of the night, council discussed the higher than normal water meter readings from the prior month.
Hunter said residents had concerns about their monthly statements. Some bills increased as much as $7.
“People need to know what happened,” he said. “They called me and said, ‘Where did I go over?’”
Hunter said there was a lot of talk around town about the water bills and even a post on Facebook that “chastised” him, specifically.
“It said I needed to get out of the way and let them (town employees) do their jobs,” Hunter said.
Interim Kershaw Town Administrator Tony Starnes said the problem occurred when an employee, who was going on vacation, was told by his supervisor to read the water meters in advance of the week he would be on vacation. The decision resulted in one additional week of meter readings added to water customers’ bills.
Rhodes said this was bad advice and “a note should be placed in the supervisor’s file” that this was not the right thing to do.
Kershaw Town Council meets 7 p.m. the third Monday of each month at its town hall.
Contact reporter Denyse Clark at (803) 283-1152