HOLLY HILL -- Holly Hill Town Council is being advised to take measures to increase revenue in its water and sewer operations.

Council received a clean opinion on its overall favorable 2016 audit report from accountant Eve McCoy on Oct. 2.

“My responsibility is to express an opinion on these financial statements,” McCoy said. “I have expressed an opinion, and it’s what we call a clean opinion or an unqualified opinion, and it is the highest level of assurance that an auditor can give.”

However, she repeated her previous advice that the mayor and the council take measures to improve the financial performance of the town’s water and sewer department in the years to come. While revenues continue to outpace expenditures in the general fund, the water and sewer department continues to show more expenses than income, McCoy noted.

For many years, the town has used its general fund to cover annual shortfalls in the water and sewer department.

“In a perfect world, you want that (balance sheet for the water and sewer department) to be break-even or at a profit,” McCoy said. “So, going forward, you’re going to have to look at how you can get that cost and income situation to where, when it comes time again that you must borrow money to invest in your infrastructure, someone will lend it to you.”

“As it stands now, it doesn’t look good (to potential lenders),” she said.

Also during the meeting, council received a progress report on the Planning and Zoning Committee’s activities from facilitator Diane Bergen. She said the first part of the process of updating Holly Hill’s regulations had been completed. The committee finalized its comprehensive plan during September and sent all changes to the Lower Savannah Council of Governments for incorporation into the final document, Bergen said. Council received and signed off on a resolution to adopt the changes prior to its October meeting.

“Now what has to happen is a meeting will be set up for the council and mayor to get a high-level overview of the plan,” Bergen said. “We will then start to do the public notification of the plan and public hearings on the plan. Then, I believe, there will be a final acceptance of it.”

The mayor and the council also set a date for a public hearing to review and discuss the adoption of county ordinances regarding the enforcement of the community development code and the building inspection code. The public hearing will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 2, at town hall.

In addition, council briefly discussed cleaning up the fountain area in the center of town, along with the need to plan events to attract more people to this attractive area near the depot. Mayor William Johnson said the town would welcome help from anyone interested in local beautification projects. Those interested are asked to call town hall at 803-496-3330.

In addition, Johnson reported the town's ditch cleaning efforts would begin when grass and weeds stop growing for the season.

In other business:

  • Police Chief Josh Detter reported the town’s Crown Victoria was totaled recently. Council authorized the purchase of new vehicles valued between $25,000 and $75,000 with a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The final cost of the new vehicles will be determined at the conclusion of the bidding process.
  • The mayor reported that the Gardner Boulevard repairs were delayed once again. The delay resulted from recent staff changes at the South Carolina Department of Transportation, which has the ultimate responsibility for repairing the roadway, Johnson said. New staff members want to review the project to make sure the plans meet all the department’s specifications before proceeding.
  • Johnson and Bergen talked about refreshing the town's website. They said the town is working with Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College students to upgrade the site, noting they hope the students “take it to the next level” in terms of creating a website that effectively markets Holly Hill.
  • Frank Brown of Holly Hill's public works department reported a new diesel pump was in place at the wastewater treatment plant. The pump will be used to keep the plant running during power outages, he said.
  • Detter announced that Holly Hill's trick-or-treat hours will be from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 31.

Holly Hill Town Council will hold its next regular meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 6.

Contact the writer: gwh903@yahoo.com.

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