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What your government is doing: Sumter City Council follows governor's guidelines for reopening; budget continues drafting process

BY SHELBIE GOULDING shelbie@theitem.com
Posted 5/7/20

Sumter City Council passed another emergency ordinance Tuesday following Gov. Henry McMaster's order on Monday that opted to slowly reopen businesses in the state.

An emergency ordinance that was enacted on April 7 declared and urged health and …

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What your government is doing: Sumter City Council follows governor's guidelines for reopening; budget continues drafting process

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Sumter City Council passed another emergency ordinance Tuesday following Gov. Henry McMaster's order on Monday that opted to slowly reopen businesses in the state.

An emergency ordinance that was enacted on April 7 declared and urged health and safety precautions during the pandemic. On April 21, that same ordinance was amended to extend the expiration date to May 6.

Council members said they thought it was necessary to extend the ordinance again to May 20 but with modifications to the text to ensure it abides by the governor's order that was made on May 1, which allowed bars and restaurants to reopen with precautions in place.

Council specifically incorporated in the text that operators are urged to follow applicable social distancing guidelines issued by health, state and federal officials as COVID-19 is still considered a threat to the nation.

"I hope that I can say with council's approval that we still encourage everybody to be very, very careful and to obey the recommended standards for separation, masking and just being very, very careful," Mayor Joe McElveen said during council's Tuesday meeting. "Please take this seriously."

Council unanimously approved the emergency ordinance, which went in effect immediately.

City budget moving toward being balanced

Sumter City Council also continued discussing the City of Sumter's fiscal year 2021 budget, and it was presented with more modifications Tuesday.

The budget's first draft was presented with $1.7 million left to balance before the beginning of the new fiscal year. A reduction in spending requests left $1.6 million left to balance after a second draft was presented.

According to City Manager Deron McCormick, they were able to reduce the spending request again from $1.6 million to $837,912.

According to the draft budget, every fund is already balanced and broken down into the TIF fund, Water and Sewer, Mayesville Water System, Stormwater, Accommodations, Hospitality and Victims' Assistance departments, except for the general fund. The general fund is currently unbalanced with the $837,912 deficit, which includes general government, public safety, public works, parks and gardens, culture and recreation, community and economic development, debt service and appropriations to other agencies.

Council and city staff members will continue to discuss the draft budget at every council meeting until the deficit is balanced before it's approved before the fiscal year ends June 30, a typical process for the city that has resulted in taxes having not been raised in more than a decade.

Other agenda items: Meat processing facility, Pocalla Springs subdivision

Council unanimously approved the final reading of an annexation of about 4.25 acres at 790 Electric Drive.

The applicant, S & S Capital, sought annexation to receive city services to support a proposed office and warehouse development on the property.

The first readings of two other annexations were also brought before council.

The first was an annexation request for about 4.13 acres at 200 Green Swamp Road. The applicant, Harvin Choice Meats Inc., a meat processing facility, is requesting annexation to receive full city services.

The second was an annexation for about 2.81 acres at 2840, 2850, 2860 and 2870 Wise Drive.

The applicant, Charles Ingram, is requesting annexation to receive city sewer service, which is required to develop single family residential dwellings on each parcel.

Council unanimously approved both first readings. They must undergo two readings to pass.

Council also unanimously approved to consider the acceptance of a maintenance guarantee for phase 5 of the Pocalla Springs subdivision, which is 35 lots located along Niblick Drive and Smalls Drive, at the price of $32,327.10.