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City amends 'Htax' allocations to include battle site

Posted: June 14, 2012 5:31 p.m.
Updated: June 15, 2012 5:00 a.m.

Camden City Council voted 4-1 Tuesday to amend recommendations made by the Camden Local Tax Fund Committee (CLTFC) in order to continue supporting efforts to obtain U.S. National Park Service (NPS) status for the Battle of Camden site. The battle site is some eight miles north of the city limits on Flat Rock Road. The Palmetto Conservation Foundation (PCF) continues to make improvements at the site and is part of a consortium of groups working with federal officials to obtain the NPS designation.

The CLTFC’s original recommendation was to not honor a request from PCF for $6,500 because “the application for maintenance funding did not meet the goals set forth by this committee” and “the cost of maintenance versus the visitors to this site did not warrant the funding request.”

However, as Councilman Pat Partin pointed out, the city has helped fund PCF’s efforts at the battlefield for a number of years. In the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, the city provided PCF with $5,000. Assistant City Manager Mel Pearson said the city agreed six years ago to grant a total of $50,000 during a five-year period -- $10,000 each year -- starting in fiscal year 2007, which began in June 2006. This fiscal year’s award brought total PCF funding by the city to $55,000.

Partin asked CLTFC Chairman Jonathan Bazinet why it did not recommend any PCF funding.

“We would like to see an immediate return on that year (of funding),” Bazinet explained. “If council really wanted (the battle site) funded, council would have provided (the money) to do so, but I thought this committee’s job is to put dollars to work within the city of Camden.”

Partin said council is working for the entire city of Camden.

“The way we’ve allocated funds -- we’re trying to do the best we can for the whole town,” Partin said. “We’ve been trying to promote national park status for Historic Camden and the battle site for a long time and we will continue to do that.”

To do so, Partin proposed changing some of the allocations so council could provide PCF with another $5,000. Partin proposed reducing allocations to the Fine Arts Center (FAC) of Kershaw County, Kershaw County Chamber of Commerce and the National Steeplechase Museum by an equal amount.

“This would free up the amount to give to the foundation so we can again promote the existence of a national park,” Partin said.

Councilman Willard Polk, however, recommended that the CLTFC’s recommendations stand.

“I think the allocations were (requested) by these organizations and are justified, valid and logical,” Polk said. “I suggest we take $5,000 from the (local tax fund’s) contingency and give that to the conservation foundation.”

Drakeford said while council could take from that particular contingency fund, she didn’t want to take the chance of doing so.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen between now and the end of the year,” she said.

“I don’t think these organizations will be slighted by us juggling the numbers,” Partin added. “I would like to keep the $95,000 (total allocation) figure, but I would also like to fund the foundation.”

Polk made two motions -- one to accept the CLTFC’s recommendations and one to take $5,000 from the contingency fund for the PCF. Both failed to be seconded.

Partin then motioned to reallocate the CLTFC’s recommendations as he had proposed. Drakeford seconded the motion and it passed, 3-1, with Polk voting against and Councilman Walter Long absent.

In other business:

• Council unanimously voted to grant a bid award to Thomas & Hutton, a Southeast regional engineering firm with locations in Charleston and Myrtle Beach, for $69,000. Thomas & Hutton will work on Phase II of the Village Renaissance project, repaving Lyttleton Street from Camden City Hall to York Street; manhole and sewer line rehabilitation along Lyttleton, King and Savage streets; and rehabilitating or installing sidewalks along Market, York and King streets.

• Council recognized honor and distinguished honor graduates from Camden High School. Three graduates appeared at the beginning of the meeting. Two other graduates arrived during the meeting and were recognized at the end of the meeting. Council provided them the opportunity to state who they were and where they planned to attend college. Mayor Jeffrey Graham handed out city of Camden pins to each graduate.

• Council voted unanimously to appoint William “Rusty” Major to the Camden Historic Landmark Commission.

• Following an executive session, council voted unanimously to seek reimbursement for tearing down a dilapidated, uninhabitable house on 18th Street in 2011.

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