By Brenda Boykin
The Alderson Town Council approved the amendments to the Alderson Business License Ordinance during Tuesday night’s meeting. The new ordinance has cleared up ambiguous wording, updated the license application, and other requirements of having a business in town. No business will be grandfathered nor will fees be changed.
Council approved street names so steps could be taken to purchase new signs and the necessary accessories to erect or replace current ones. No street names will be changed, however, a service road was given the name “Alderson’s Ferry Road” for this purpose. The new signs will be green, reflective, and larger than those currently used. This will assist with the 911 system. The town has a grant for this purpose.
It was recommended by Mayor Travis Copenhaver that the water meter tariff be increased from $25 to $50 for testing a meter. If someone requests a meter be tested because they feel the bill is too high based on consumption, and it is shown that the meter is not working correctly then the fee will be waived and adjustments will be made for incorrect charges. The process of interrogating the meter is both time consuming and expensive. Of the three that have been tested since the installment of the new meters, the meters worked correctly.
The Alderson Town Council has and continues to make necessary changes due to the ongoing audit reviewing accounting practices for the years of 2011, 2012 and 2013. The audit was initiated by the Town of Alderson. Several items were discussed including that this year any fringe benefits such as uniforms provided by the town will be taxed. Additionally, regarding the police department, the uniforms will include a stripe down the side of the leg to prevent any usage other than job related wear. Action is being taken to assure that funds in the budget are charged to the appropriate line item. This means that if there is more revenue than budgeted, or an expense is less than budgeted, the accounts are zeroed out by transferring any leftover funds to another account that is deemed appropriate. An audit for the year 2014 will take place in the fall.
In keeping with the audit, the Mayor’s Report included requirements such as segregation of duties: grant funds have to be put into separate checking accounts, separate accounts for water and sewer, and any funds received by the 4th of July Committee and the Community Center must go through the general funds.
In other business:
Council agreed to submit a letter of public opinion to the EPA concerning the proposed rules regarding the 1972 Clean Water Act. Although Alderson supports clean water, it is felt that it is a big overstep of EPA’s definition of navigable waters, and may require residents to obtain a permit to use a weed killer such as Roundup on their lawns.
The town did not get any money from the Corp of Engineers that was requested but were told to reapply when funds become available again. Town has applied for over $650,000 for generators, water, sewer and the Community Center for the shelter. A grant request has been submitted for a second police car.
The prison is being billed $4,393.99 per month for the next year in addition to their regular bill for their impact on the town waste system due to a test ran in November. The sewer plant is purchasing a new meter that will cost around $5,000 with town employees installing it, and 50 tons of gravel have been purchased for East River Avenue. A new screen is being purchased for the water plant for $12,000.
It was discussed by council that if grass exceeds one-foot in height or if cut grass is discharged in the streets, it is a misdemeanor ordinance and the violator can be fined. It falls under the jurisdiction of the police department to handle the complaints.
Four dogs were impounded, fines paid and released. Three push mowers, two weed eaters and a riding mower were purchased using the revenue of the sale of a dump truck. Five federal inmates will assist with grounds maintenance.
Comments from citizens:
Jeff Ambler expressed his concern to the council that CSX right-of-way of seven-feet from the train rails may cause a problem with trying to gain access to some areas for emergency vehicles. He was assured by the mayor that life safety takes precedence over right-of-way. Ambler stated that he feels there should be more consideration given to the town trying to generate revenue from its land holdings instead of increasing town expenses due to maintenance of the grounds. It was explained that most fall in the open space conservation area of the zoning map. The town does lease some of the FEMA land for a fee but those lands can’t have any sort of structure put on them including mobile homes. He asked if the land adjoining his was for sale and was informed that at this time there is no town-owned property for sale. Ambler also took issue with the location of the recycle bins on Riverview Avenue. Though others agreed with him, thus far, the town has not been able to find any other suitable area for the bins. The advantage of their current location is that the bins are on asphalt, at a convenient location, and are being used for their intended purposes.
Joey Wilson requested to lease a lot in Glen Ray for a garden and camper. Since it is outside the town limits, and the camper is mobile, it is allowable. The town will not run any water to the lot. The request was approved by council.
Town council meetings are held every second Tuesday of the month at 7:30 p.m. The public is invited.