RIDGEWAY — Ridgeway Town Council is searching for ways to save money and generate more revenue for capital improvements.
Councilman Doug Porter suggested increasing the town’s water rates. Since 2008 Ridgeway has only raised rates $1.15, and during many of those years didn’t raise rates at all.
Typically, Ridgeway has only adjusted rates when the town of Winnsboro has increased the rate. During the last three years Ridgeway has just passed along the rate increase, and has not generated any revenue of its own.
The potential Water Steering Company, that Ridgeway is part of, has already said that its rates are too low. Porter recommended council raise the 50-cent minimum charge.
By not increasing rates, Ridgeway is not increasing its own revenue and is just passing along the costs they have to pay.
Mayor Pro Tem Donald Prioleau said he does not feel it is the proper time to raise rates, but would be open to the idea in the future.
“When Winnsboro adjusts their rates again, that is when we need to look at how much we should go up,” Prioleau stated.
Another option for increased revenue would be to raise sewer rates. Ridgeway’s current minimum charge is $10.94 compared to neighboring Kershaw County’s minimum charge of $20.
Ridgeway’s Mayor Charlene Herring knows the public will not see raising rates as a popular move.
“Nobody likes higher rates but it is a necessity,” Herring noted. “Nobody wants to raise taxes but the reality is we do not have a major industry.”
The Century House is an ideal venue for weddings and although it was not rented out last month, council is hoping to make some extra funds through its lease at $250 per rental. Without a major industry council has been very meticulous when it comes to their capital expenditures.
“Thankfully we have a sound budget and have not spent more than we have,” Herring said.
After a lengthy executive session to discuss a personnel matter regarding the police department, council announced the hiring of Donald Johnson part time. The Fairfield County resident will work 20 hours per week and has several years of experience in Elgin, Winnsboro, Kershaw County and Chester County.
In the Mayor’s Report
A new billboard was put up on Interstate 77 and was paid for by Cotton Yard Market and Over the Top. Herring hopes it will bring more visitors into Ridgeway.
“I think that the billboard is a real nice addition,” Herring said. “Hopefully it well encourage more people to stop by Ridgeway during their travels.”
The new Ridgeway Old Town Hall Restaurant has targeted an opening date for the end of this month, and will be just in time for the next First Friday in Ridgeway (July 5).
Concerning the Water Steering Committee, Herring requested that council members review the presentations and proposals by Pope Zeigler for discussion at the next town council meeting on July 11. Presentation handouts included information on how previous water authorities have been formed and the proposals contained four models.
During the next meeting, council members will discuss which model Ridgeway is leaning toward. Herring and several other council members expressed their concerns about maintaining Ridgeway’s assets.
“We always want to maintain our assets,” Herring noted. “But the reality is we need water if we hope to have economic development.”
The next Water Steering Committee meeting will be held in either August or September.