BAMBERG — Bamberg County Council is taking a proactive stance in cleaning up derelict properties through its involvement in the federal grant Neighborhood Initiative Program.
NIP is designed to stabilize property values by removing and “greening” vacant and abandoned properties in targeted areas, with funding strategically targeting residential demolition in designated areas.
County Administrator Joey Preston said at Bamberg County Council’s meeting Monday night the county is working with South Carolina Regional Housing Authority No. 3 to secure a portion of the $6.7 million in NIP funds available the Pee Dee/Sandhills region, including Bamberg County.
“They’re going to be applying for part of that money. Most of the time this money goes to urban areas, but they feel there’s going to be some rural areas that can qualify. So they’re going to be making an application that’s going to include Bamerg County,” Preston said.
He said once property is revamped, it “goes back on the tax books and is cleaned up or can be converted to parks or whatever.”
“The money will help pay for title searches, pay delinquent taxes that are owned on a property, all the legal expenses that are associated with it,” Preston said.
In other business, Treasurer Alice Johnson reported the county’s total income for October was $500,230. Expenses came in at $712,205, reflecting a deficit of $211,975, she said. Johnson said the county is anticipating increased revenue from real estate taxes.
Finance Director T.M. Thomas’ financial report revealed the county’s general fund had generated $1,743,421 in year-to-date revenue as of the end of October. Expenditures stood at $1,825,297, reflecting a deficit of $81,876.
The county collected $264,291 year-to-date in its special revenue fund, which consists of the county’s E-911, road maintenance and rural fire service funds. Year-to-date expenditures stood at $249,756. The county collected $224,676 year-to-date in its enterprise fund, which consists of solid waste funds. Year-to-date expenditures stood at $365,359, reflecting a deficit of $140,682 in the enterprise fund.
Work is underway to collect past due landfill tipping fees, Thomas said.
Council also gave final third reading approval to an ordinance that will allow the county to exchange real estate located at 392 Second St. for real estate located at 1244 North St.
In addition, the council approved final third reading of an ordinance that will allow for the sale and complete removal of structures located at 1244 North St., 401 Second St. and 19 Courthouse Loop.
Approval of the ordinances followed public hearings.
With the ordinances, the county is preparing to clear the way for the new courthouse annex construction. The new complex will be located at the corner of Second and North streets. Preston reported Hampton-based Brunson Construction Company was awarded the $2,729,300 bid to complete the work slated to begin in January.
In other business:
Mallory Hoffman, county Keep America Beautiful coordinator, presented the Denmark-Olar High cheerleaders with a $250 check from Palmetto Pride for coordinating a litter-free football game.
Hoffman said KBCB’s 130 volunteers, including 70 students, have dedicated more than 365 hours of service and collected more than 3,300 pounds of litter, trash and/or yard debris.
Shelli D. Quenga, director of the Palmetto Project, a nonprofit that received a federal grant to train and place certified navigators to help people explore their health care options under the federal Affordable Care Act, announced Valeria Frazier, a certified navigator, will be stationed at the Bamberg County Library from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Mondays through Feb. 15 to help area residents. For more information, call toll-free at 1-888-998-4646 to set up an appointment. * Councilman Trent Kinard, a member of the Lower Savannah Council of Government’s Transportation Advisory Committee, reported road work on Felder Street in Bamberg is slated to be completed in two to three weeks following the rupture of a 10-inch water main.
Council approved an updated capital improvement plan for the Bamberg County Airport, along with two grant applications the county wrote and submitted to the state Aeronautics Commission and state Budget and Control Board. One grant is for $166,667 and would provide for land acquisition and obstruction clearing at the airport.
“I understand the county has been working on this for about 10 years. Now we’re to the point where we can move forward with it and get it done,” Preston said.
Another $495,000 grant would be provided for airport amenities, including an automated weather observation system and identifier lights for the end of the runway.
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