Orangeburg County Council has accepted nine grants totaling over $1 million dollars.
The largest is worth $791,911 and will be used to install a countywide warning system.
“That’s to move the infrastructure on a communications tower, and we’re moving that infrastructure from one of the industrial areas closer into Orangeburg,” Orangeburg County Administrator Harold Young said during Monday’s council meeting.
Moving the system will improve communication throughout the county, Young said.
Young stated that a warning system will be installed “that will allow us to contact individuals or broadcast a signal about warnings for different types of storms and disasters.”
The grant is from the South Carolina Emergency Management Division.
Council also accepted seven grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture/Rural Grant program.
The seven grants include:
• A $49,700 grant for the purchase of seven trash compactors for the central region of the county.
• A $49,800 grant for the purchase of eight sheriff’s department vehicles for the central region of the county.
• A $50,000 grant for the purchase of eight sheriff’s department vehicles for the western region of the county.
• A $49,500 grant for the purchase of seven trash compactors for the eastern region of the county.
• A $25,200 grant for the purchase of salt truck equipment.
• A $49,900 grant for the purchase of seven sheriff’s department vehicles for the eastern region of the county.
• A $49,700 grant for the purchase of seven trash compactors for the western region of the county.
“There is a facilities grant program that allows you to get $50,000 per project, and so that’s why we broke the projects down so that we could maximize the grant money by getting $50,000 for each particular project,” Young said.
“So that’s why instead of saying we wanted cars for the sheriff’s department, we would have gotten one $50,000 grant. But if we say we want sheriff’s cars for the region, then we could break it up into projects, and that’s how we were able to maximize grant money and get $300,000,” he stated.
The projects have a total cost $500,000 and the grant funding cut $323,600 of the cost, leaving the county to only pay $176,400.
Young noted that the remaining cost will be paid with the county’s capital improvement funds.
Council also approved an addendum to an intergovernmental agreement that establishes the Lower Savannah Regional Home Consortium.
The consortium consists of Aiken, Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Calhoun and Orangeburg counties, and assists the counties and their existing municipalities with securing federal funding for housing activities.
“Basically we go out after funding to do housing rehab and other housing activities like down payment assistance, closing costs, things of that nature. We used to get that money from the state, and we would have to apply for it, but when we would apply for it, there was a slim chance we would get funding because we were going up against every application within the state,” Young said.
“By being a consortium, we actually get a direct pot of funding from the federal government so that we know we would get a consistent grant amount every year. So then it’s up to us to create rules to give out the money within the areas of those counties that are a part of the consortium,” he stated.
The City of Orangeburg, Town of North, Town of Holly Hill, Town of Neeses, Town of Santee and Orangeburg County are members of the consortium.
Young noted that the grant award “allows us to receive additional funding for that consortium at a rate of $500,000 a year based on federal funding.”
Also during the meeting:
• Council passed two resolutions honoring South Carolina State University men’s track athletes Demek Kemp and Tyrell Richard for their accomplishments in track at the NCAA indoor track and field championships.
• Council approved the appointment of Stephens Dexter Clark to the Orangeburg County Human Relations Council.
• Council approved a procurement item regarding required meals for confined persons at the county detention center. The cost is $1.37 per meal.
• Brenda Jamerson, chairwoman of the Samaritan House board of directors, came before council to request funding to re-open the facility which provided temporary housing for the homeless.
• Council received a report from Dr. William Molnar, the executive director of the Lower Savannah Council of Governments. Molnar detailed the agency’s role in the county.
• Council approved third reading of a zoning ordinance re-designating property located at 5636 Bamberg Road in Cope owned by Thomas Crosby from the forest agricultural district to the rural community district.
• Council approved second reading of a zoning ordinance re-designating property located at 1491 Wingate St. and 2064 Hartwell St. in Orangeburg owned by the Dorothy Cotton Williams Trust from the residential general district to the commercial general district.
• Council approved second reading of three ordinances that amend and restate fee-in-lieu of tax agreements between the county and three separate solar projects: Palmetto Plains Solar Project, Huntley Solar, LLC and Twe Bowman Solar Project, LLC.
Young noted that the county had to “re-negotiate the fee schedule because the projects were in jeopardy of not being able to be constructed because of the tariffs involved with steel before they made the agreement to get this going.”
The new agreement allows the county to receive a $500,000 fee upfront, and change the fee schedule for each project.
“Instead of us getting a different amount, basically, the fee now includes a $500,000 upfront payment in year one, and then that lowers their payments the rest of the way through on the 40 years,” he said.
Young said the fee allows the county to receive the $500,000 initially, instead of having to wait four or five years according to the old agreement’s fee schedule.
Young said this amendment is important because “you’re using a lot of farming property and a lot of other usable properties to create these solar farms, so you want to make sure the fee structure is right because nothing else can go there once they come. It’s not like you can put another industry on that property or build houses on it. Once they take up 500 acres in a community, it’s going to be that way for 40 years.”