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Town of Johnston Gets Clean Audit, 6 months in Reserves

By Anne Waits
web posted November 15, 2012

JOHNSTON – Among an array of items addressed on the agenda Monday night, Johnston Town Council received and approved a clean audit for FY 2011/2012 and voted unanimously to donate $1,000 to the Johnston American Legion toward a roof replacement in view of the fact that the building is used for Town elections.

Matt Phillips of McKinley, Cooper, Inc. addressed Council regarding the audit. At the end of the current fiscal year, the Town had a fund balance of $716,429, an increase of $103,043 over the previous year. "The Town has a fund balance of 56 percent," Phillips said, after going over the audit. "We like to keep it above three months--the way it stands now, if suddenly there was no money coming in the Town could operate for six months."

In the public comments portion of the meeting, citizen Lucky Davis expressed concern regarding a ditch on East Hill Drive and also some shrubbery on East Hill Drive that could possibly cause safety issues. Approval of the October Minutes and the Financial Report followed.

In old business, Mayor Andy Livingston announced that the Peach Exchange Committee list is now complete and includes John Edwards Jr., Willie Campbell, Artie Emanuel, Kay Campbell, Donna Livingston, Annette Holloway and Darlene Smith. The mayor recommended and Council agreed that the committee's duties would include: meeting monthly during the months of January, February and March; soliciting nominations from the committee and the general public through the media; picking an honoree and presenting a name to Town Council; and determining how many and how often citizens should be honored by being placed on the wall (town mural).

In continuation of discussion on the Waterworks Park move, Livingston announced that he has written a letter to owners of the adjacent property to what the Town already owns and that the project is in the works for a park, not a basketball court.

In other old business, Council member Terrence Culbreath informed Council that the Website Update is going smoothly and should be done in perhaps three weeks.
"We have a template," he said. "I sent about 40 pictures. It's coming together. I still don't know if we will be able to keep the original logo or not."

Livingston asked if there would be a place to put it in order for Council to view it and Culbreath answered, "Yes."

Regarding a previously discussed project with Johnston Development Corporation to place a clock on the town mural, the mayor announced that project has been scratched. Instead the Development Corporation will purchase two benches to place on the street where they will not interfere with the normal flow of pedestrian traffic. The Development Corporation will fund the project.

In other old business, Council voted to replace the police boots stipend of $75 a year to $125 every two years.

The discussion on public works policy continued. At last month's meeting, Council was in favor of re-writing the ordinance for collection of yard debris by the Town. The mayor said he had been reading up and there was a way to do it as a resolution. A long discussion ensued as to what composed "normal" yard rake again.

Council member Tyra Miller said, "The key is defining normal yard rake for people who pay to have their grass and shrubbery cut. It will differ from yard to yard. But we were looking at big jobs when talking about contractors."

Council member Tommy Burton said he thought they should do as they had been doing. "Its been working," he said.

Council member Tommy Stone said the question had come up with public works as to what they should accept.

Several members said the Town should pick up what they can in 10 minutes and come back later for the rest.

Police Chief Chris Aston reminded Council they could regulate time but not "normal."

Council finally agreed that citizens who have to hire people to do their yard work should have their debris picked up in that manner--as much as the Town can pick up in 10 minutes and if they have to make a second trip, do so. That does not include large projects such as cutting down trees and so forth in which the contractor would be responsible for hauling off debris.

In new business, Council approved an agreement between the Town and Municipal Association for collection of business license taxes from insurance companies.
"We already do it," said the mayor. "The Municipal Association writes it up." Ordinance 2012-02 was approved on first reading. This is an ordinance adopting the Municipal Association's Model Business Licenses Ordinance which amends the Business License Ordinance Provisions for Insurance Companies. It replaces the ordinance in place. This was a change in verbage and is in keeping with a state and federal law.

With Veterans Day falling on Monday next year, Council gave approval to observe Veterans Day on Monday and to make a change in the 2013 Town Council Meeting Schedule to meet on Nov. 12 instead of Nov. 11 in order to observe Veterans Day.

Council approved the use of the Municipal Parking Lot for the Annual Christmas Tree Lighting on Nov. 26 and the mayor reminded Council of the Edgefield Christmas Parade on Dec. 2 at 4 p.m.

Council also agreed that in future years, Halloween hours will be from 6 to 8 p.m. instead of 6 to 8:30 p.m.

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