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Camden in good company

Posted: April 19, 2012 11:15 a.m.
Updated: April 20, 2012 5:00 a.m.

At the recent National League of Cities conference, Leslie Wollack, program director for federal relations, placed Camden in "good company" with other cities nationwide when he noted the importance of local infrastructure. As Camden continues to operate with a balanced budget, I believe infrastructure is a primary focus.

There are many aspects of interest in the proposed budget. I want to highlight just a few of them, to include infrastructure, partnerships and communications.

Historic Camden -- This budget supports the strategic planning of continuing to make infrastructure improvements in various locations around Camden. From Wateree to York on Broad Street, utilities will continue to be placed underground. As this includes the entrance area of Historic Camden, as well as a line running across their property, another hindrance to the potential of obtaining national park status is being removed by the city. An estimated $400,000 will be dedicated to this infrastructure work.  

Downtown -- You are going to see the downtown undergrounding of utilities continue with work on Broad to Campbell and on Commerce Alley and Rutledge to Clyburn. The city is also partnering with the Kershaw County School District to make utility improvements in support of its district offices and ATEC.

Statues -- Partnering with both private and public entities continues to improve Camden. With great appreciation to John Rainey and Johnny Hagen, the new city statues will be placed at the Town Green and at the Camden Archives and Museum this year. 

Power surges -- In working to better control power surges, the substation distribution transformer on DeKalb will be completed in October of 2012. This project, which is part of the five-year plan, will be completed in this budget cycle.

Local market -- The Kershaw County Farmers Market opened this past weekend with rave reviews.  With a special thank-you to State Rep. Laurie Funderburk for championing improvements in this area, the city invested in a new access ramp and some soil conservation work.

Increased parking -- With the new storm drains east of King Haiglar completed and a dilapidated building removed, downtown parking in that area will more than double. With the inclusion of this budget, removal of dilapidated structures in the city number around 30 since the city updated the local ordinance which holds property owners responsible for improving or removing condemned structures from their property.

Sewer lines -- Within the historic district (Johnson Lane and Kirkwood areas) problems are surfacing that call for the scoping of sewer lines to determine and prepare to address these issues. Funds are in this budget to map out future repairs as required.

Beyond infrastructure, the budget also covers other improvements. The initial stages of enhancing the Camden gateways are in this budget. Designs for improving the four major approaches to Camden will detail how to improve the first impression/appearance of entering our city. Other Camden sites included in the focus of this budget are the Price House, Camden Archives and Kirkwood Park.  

Both accommodation tax and hospitality tax grants have been received. With the long-standing accommodation tax committee and the newly established hospitality tax committee, the city will receive recommendations on budget expenditures for these two revenues. This budget cycle will be the first time the hospitality tax committee will be employed to make recommendations.

Our first responders need updated equipment to meet National Homeland Security standards. In case of a major disaster, our police, fire and public works personnel will have connectivity with the city, county, state and federal levels through the provision of over 100 updated radios. This is a significant equipment improvement that enhances public safety.

I think I have just scratched the surface of all the great improvements being addressed in the proposed budget. The public hearing, next Tuesday, allows for a very detailed view of how the Camden city budget supports the priorities of the city. We are investing in the future. Our vision plan, supported by this budget, includes many different projects that all lead to the same goal: making Camden a great place to live, work, and play!

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