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1% Sales Tax, Town Projects Top Discussion at Johnston Town Council Meeting

web posted January 15, 2014

JOHNSTON Johnston Town Council met Monday night for the first time of the year with a number of old items of business and one new item of business on the agenda.
Following the approval of the Dec. 9, 2013, Minutes and the approval of the December 2013 Financial Report, the Streetscape Repair was again discussed. Mayor Andy Livingston informed Council that he had been in touch with Action Landscape and that they are getting ready to start work.

"With one exception," said Livingston. "I sent you all e-mails that I revised the proposal taking out the irrigation. That's $14,000. We'll look at the irrigation and if they can fix it, we will. If it's in such bad repair, i want to be able to say, 'forget it.'"
He said that he had talked to Stewart Smith and the irrigation never was completed as it was supposed to be. (It was later determined that it was completed and they used soaker hoses that had rotted out).

There was no news on the second item of old business, the generator purchase for the Town.

A discussion of items to be presented to the One Percent Committee produced a list, originally written by the mayor, with additional items written in. The list is as follows:
 Railroad Warehouse Renovation for Community Center/Police Station; New Fire Department Station; Upgrades to Police Department; Upgrades to Public Works Department; Pay off Garbage Truck Loan; Awnings for Johnston Welcome Center/Chamber; Streetscape for Bland Avenue; Sidewalk to IGA; Welcome Signs; Council Chambers Update; Awnings for Town Hall; Renovation to Town Hall-Clerk's Office and Kitchen; and Garden Center.

The mayor reminded Council that they don't know yet how much money they will get out of it.

"There are several formulas they could use to distribute the money," he said. "At the next meeting, we should do as Councilman Burton suggested and take the list and prioritize it."

The mayor said they need to decide whether they want a lot of small projects or several large ones.

Council member Tyra Miller commented that they don't want to prioritize several large projects and then not get enough money to do any of them.

The mayor replied that it was his understanding that once they finalize projects, they have to follow through with them.

"This is just a working list," he added. "You can add to it anytime. Call Donna (Livingston) and tell her the projects you want to add."

Under new business, a discussion on patrol cars ensued.

Chief of Police Chris Aston presented several possibilities to Council. "We have three patrol cars in the shop now," he said. "We have a fleet of patrol cars which are getting in bad repair." The mayor mentioned that some are as old as 1993 or 1994. The Explorer they have now is a 2003, said Aston. "Which means we're going to need a couple of new patrol cars in the near future," said Miller.

Aston mentioned the possibility of Explorers, Dodge chargers (which are cheaper) and trucks (which some departments are using). "There's nothing on the State surplus," said Aston.

It was also discussed that some cars could be moved to other departments and there was one unmarked car which could be moved into the patrol fleet. Several mentioned the possibility of a truck.

Miller finally asked if Aston could get a quote on a sedan and bring it to the next meeting. Culbreath said he would like to do some research on how SUVs hold up.
No action was taken.

Under Committee Reports, Burton said the Fire Department has had no serious house fires this year, but has been working hard on smaller fires and assisting Edgefield Fire Department with the Log Creek fire.

Burton also mentioned that he had some complaints about the excess sounds of large fireworks in neighborhoods during the holidays.

"Some fireworks too large should not be allowed in neighborhoods," he said.
Under Office of Town Council, Councilman Culbreath mentioned that some older houses in his ward had become in bad need of repair and need to be cleaned up.
Also, Aston mentioned that they have a number of applications, some not certified and one certified, for a new police officer. He said he would like to get permission from Council that once they go through the applications and the police committee approves, to go ahead and hire if they can get a good candidate. They mayor mentioned that the money is in the budget.

Under the Mayor's Report, Livingston reminded Council members of the Municipal Association's Hometown Legislative Day in Columbia on Feb. 5; said that the new Christmas lights added on Lee Street this year were less than $2,300; mentioned that Public Works garbage truck pick-ups in the week after Christmas amounted to 415 garbage carts on one side and 420 on the other; mentioned that business licenses are due March 31; and mentioned that Economic Interest Statements are now due March 30.

Following executive session, Council voted to set the salary range for lieutenant between the 35 and $42,000 range and to raise the salary range of Lamaz Robinson, who was promoted to lieutenant last month, to the salary range for lieutenant.

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