NEESES –Councilwoman Wanda Ammons was recognized with a framed certificate for her 14 years of service Tuesday evening, Dec. 7, at the Neeses Town Council meeting.
Mayor Kenneth Gleaton presented it to her at the end of the meeting with applause from the council members and the few citizens in the galley.
Ammons chose not to run for re-election in November. During one part of the meeting, when the Orangeburg County Community of Character trait of kindness was discussed, Ammons said, “I was always told to treat people well on the way up because you never know if you will be meeting them on the way down.”
Ammons assisted the town in many initiatives, including the formation of the Seniors Recreation and Leisure Center. A church pianist who has also played for singers for concerts, she has donated her time to play the instrument for many special events for the town.
Charlie Barrineau, field services manager with the Municipal Association of South Carolina, gave presentations earlier in the meeting on Neeses’ new town business license ordinance and the American Rescue Plan.
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Barrineau stated that 255 of 271 S.C. municipalities require business licenses and that anywhere from 10-50% of a municipality’s revenue, on average, in the state can come from business license fees. S.C. municipalities get $400 million in revenue through those fees.
“Business licenses should be based on gross revenue,” Barrineau added.
Some businesses have multiple counties in which they do business, and the lack of standardization was causing them extra expenses and difficulty.
Barrineau said, for example, that a pest control business owner said they would hire an accountant just to keep up with all of the municipalities’ business license due dates in all the towns or cities in which he or she provided business.
He stated that for this reason, the business license range was standardized statewide from May 1 of one year to April 30 of another. The ordinance Neeses Town Council gave first reading to in their last meeting stated this as well.
Barrineau added that MASC hired a programming firm to create a program for businesses to enter the places they do business on a state server online. He said that municipalities’ rates would be programmed in and officials could then approve business licenses in the program.
Barrineau said in the new ordinance for Neeses that the base rate is $15 and “the per-thousand rate” is 38 cents, and the maximum charged is $167 per year.
Barrineau recommended checking on the gross of businesses in the area and considering raising the business license fee based upon that in future.
Council gave second reading to adopt the state business license requirements, and it was approved.
Barrineau stated that 254 smaller S.C. municipalities received funds from the American Rescue Plan.
“You received $85,000. You will receive more funds in a year,” Barrineau added.
Barrineau said, “You do not have to decide what to do with the funds until 2024 and do not have to have the funds spent until 2026.”
He said they can use the funds for a public health initiative, to help businesses affected by the economy, and/or to provide food assistance to citizens.
Barrineau also stated there are unique ways to help businesses that they can fund such as streetscaping or landscaping in outdoor spaces to encourage eating outside.
He also mentioned that the funds could be used for digital media for meetings or premium pay for employees who worked during the pandemic.
Barrineau added that the funds are to stimulate the economy, and things such as infrastructure, local water and sewer and broadband could be funded.
Barrineau gave a list of what municipalities cannot do with the funds: They cannot pay off debt; they cannot waive property taxes; they cannot waive business license fees; and they cannot pay off a pension debt.
He mentioned the state of S.C. received approximately $500 million and that it may be used for infrastructure and added that municipalities may want to consider supplementing some of this infrastructure with their funds, providing matches and more.
Gleaton said the Town of Neeses is setting up a separate account for A.R.P. funds. No decisions have been made about the funds at present.
Gleaton next said they are still working on prices for new plaques for the Firefighters and Military Memorial and that they received a lot of good comments from the flag display last month.
In other business:
• Elected officials for Neeses will be sworn in Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022 at 7:30 p.m. at the Neeses Town Hall.
• 2022 calendars were passed out during the meeting, and meeting dates will be discussed during the next meeting on Jan. 4 after the swearing-in at 7:30 p.m.
• The Cemetery Committee will be meeting Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022, at 3 p.m. at Neeses Town Hall.