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SANTEE -- Santee Town Council approved measures to save $52,000 in finance charges and also appointed two new members to the town's planning committee at its Nov. 2 meeting.

Council began by approving an amendment to Santee's Use of Potable Water and Wastewater ordinance. The amendment permits town water officials to require a $60 deposit of all customers signing up for water services. Previously, the town only required security deposits from the occupants of rental properties who wished to open a water and sewer account. The amendment received its first reading at council’s October meeting.

This change will enable the town to recover the cost of services provided between the last bill paid before the sale of a property and the date the property’s sale is actually completed.

In other business, council approved first reading of an ordinance to adopt Orangeburg County's Community Development Code by reference and the county's Building Inspection Code in its entirety for use in Santee.

The ordinance will complete the process council began when it voted to approve the memorandum of understanding that enables county officials to enforce local building codes. The new ordinance ensures that Santee’s building and maintenance requirements remain in sync with those of the county and other applicable authorities.

The council also approved first reading of an ordinance authorizing and providing for the issuance of South Carolina Hospitality and Accommodation Fee Revenue Bonds and related matters.

“We have discussed for quite some time refinancing the bond issue and the lease-purchase agreement,” Mayor Donnie Hilliard said. “We also had our financial adviser look at our Farmers Home Administration loans that we have for various water activity to see if we could save some money."

“The conference center is on a lease-purchase interest rate of 4.15 percent, and the FHA bonds at 6.37 percent and 6.25 percent, respectively," he said. "We’ve been able to realize a savings on both. After paying off all of these old bonds and the financing costs, Santee will realize a savings of $52,000.”

In other business, council approved first reading of the first supplemental ordinance providing for the issuance and sale, not to exceed $2 million, of the Hospitality and Accommodation Fee Revenue Bond, Series 2016.

This supplemental bond brings Santee into compliance with state requirements to shift the conference center from the current funding structure to the new revenue bond arrangement.

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In addition, council approved first reading of an ordinance providing for the issuance and sale, not to exceed $350,000, of the town's Waterworks and Sewer System Revenue Bonds, to be designated Series 2016.

This measure enables Santee to meet FHA requirements for refinancing existing bonds at a more favorable interest rate.

Council will hold a special meeting to give these ordinances second readings at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 10. Council members chose this option to meet deadlines for the banks and attorneys who are involved to complete the necessary paperwork ahead of the Thanksgiving holidays.

Also, Hilliard reported the town's external audit is now in its final stages, adding he expects work to be completed in time for council's regular meeting in December.

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The town has completed the purchase of the property it needs to expand its pumping station, the mayor reported. He said the purchase puts Santee in compliance with requirements for getting a federal grant to finance the expansion and upgrades.

“The current pump station is about 40 years old,” Hilliard said. “Many parts are no longer available. We patched it here and there, but we can’t continue to do that.”

He also reported the town received a grant to help with gateway and drainage improvements. Local officials are continuing to work with the S.C. Department of Transportation and its own engineers to design and lay out the desired improvements, he said.

Hilliard said the roof work had been completed on Santee Town Hall and the Arts Center since his last monthly report. He said that neither he nor his staff had seen any sign of leaks since the projects’ completion, even in the midst of Hurricane Matthew. Remodeling continues inside town hall, the mayor said.

Looking ahead to holiday festivities, it was announced that the Lessons and Carols Service will take place at the Santee Conference Center at 6 p.m. on Dec. 7 and Santee's Christmas Parade down Bass Drive is scheduled at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 11. Council members selected “Light Up the Christmas Spirit” as the theme for this year’s parade. Anyone wishing to participate is asked to call 803- 854-3233 by Dec. 7 for official rules, entry forms or more information.

Santee Town Council's next regular meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 8.

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Contact the writer: gwh903@yahoo.com.

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