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ILLUSTRATION: City Council chambers

Orangeburg City Council meets in the renovated building which once held the Orangeburg Fire Department.

Orangeburg City Council members wanted to drive home a certain message to their constituents during Tuesday’s meeting.

City officials approved third reading of the 2019-20 budgets for the City of Orangeburg and the Department of Public Utilities.

The $21.8 million city budget includes a 2-mill tax increase. For a home valued at $100,000, taxes are expected to increase $8. The increase for a home valued at $200,000 is expected to be $16.

The new DPU budget includes increased gas and electric rates.

“The city continues to provide quality of service for our citizens, and we continue to keep the citizens in mind as we provide these services. Costs go up. We never like to raise revenue just to raise it, but we do have to continue to provide a great quality of service,” Mayor Michael Butler said.

Mayor Pro Tem L. Zimmerman Keitt said it is important that the citizens hear this message.

“A lot of people are really raising a fuss with us. We’re trying to do the best that we can with what we have, especially since the state does not get us as much money as we used to,” Keitt said.

Keitt said the message applies to both the millage increase and the utility rate hikes.

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Butler said he wants citizens to know officials have taken the rate increases under “deep consideration.”

“We have taken all our citizens under consideration, but the quality of service that we need to provide, we want to continue that. And for that reason, we have to raise the rates,” Butler said.

Council members gave the city budget unanimous approval. The DPU budget was approved with a 5-1 vote, as Councilman Richard Stroman voted against the budget.

Stroman said he has had people tell him they can’t afford the utility rate increases.

“I work for the citizens of Orangeburg and I have to listen to the people I work for,” Stroman said.

“I just can’t vote for this tonight. I went along with it, and my conscience won’t let me do it,” he said.

Also during the meeting:

• Council approved third reading of an ordinance for a zoning district map change from A-1 residential single-unit district to O-1 office institutional residential district for property located at 1807 Columbia Road owned by Gressette Investments Limited.

• Council approved the appointment of Spencer Anderson to the City of Orangeburg Building Board of Appeals.

• Council approved the appointment of Tyler Gardner to the City of Orangeburg Election Commission.

• Council proclaimed trustworthiness as the character trait for September 2019.

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Contact the writer: bharris@timesandemocrat.com or 803-533-5516

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Staff Writer

Bradley Harris is a Government and Sports Reporter. The Irmo, SC native is a 2018 graduate of Claflin University and recipient of the 2018 South Carolina Press Association Collegiate Journalist of the Year Award.

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