on June 1, 2007 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

Walhalla amends budget to keep extra funds

WALHALLA — With taxpayer money already in its coffers, the Walhalla City Council made a quick amendment to its 2006-2007 budget yesterday, ensuring it wouldn’t lose out on a one-time collection.

Required by law to roll back its 84-mill levy due to new county reassessment numbers, or override the reduced rate, the city chose the latter, opting for a 10.2 mill property tax increase, thus resetting the levy at 84 mills.

“This is a one-time opportunity to retroactively amend the ordinance that set the current budget,” explained City Administrator Nancy Goehle.

West Union Contract

The council also voted unanimously to enter into a temporary agreement, through Sept. 1, to provide police service for the town of West Union.

West Union dissolved its police department on May 23 and has negotiated with the Walhalla Police Department to contract for protection.

In the agreement, Walhalla will regularly patrol West Union 24 hours a day, seven days a week, conduct investigations into crimes and assist with prosecution.

“It’s providing a service to us and providing a service to them — it’s a two-way deal,” Walhalla Mayor Lamar Bailes said.

In the agreement, West Union would pay Walhalla $3,000 a month for police services. One-third of citation money collected in West Union would stay with the town while remainder would go to Walhalla.

Dissolving the department and and negotiating with Walhalla met with great opposition by the residents of West Union at a May 23 special meeting. Those attending argued that it was possibly a first step toward annexation by Walhalla.

West Union Councilman David Foulke said the move was to provide the town with full-time police protection for less money. Previously, its one-man department only operated between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Walhalla Councilman Charles Land raised the possibility of annexation yesterday, but it was quickly dismissed by Bailes.

“There is certainly no effort for annexation,” he said. “There has been no discussion of that neither here nor there.”

Councilman Randy Chastain concurred, “At this point, I think they look at this purely as an economic possibility for the best, which is exactly what we need to do.”

Land also voiced concerns over West Unionís struggles — the recent resignation of a mayor, a mayoral contestant written in at the last moment and a South Carolina Law Enforcement Division investigation into water usage — and wondered if it was in the best interest of Walhalla to enter into an agreement at such a turbulent moment.

Questions were also raised of how to hire a temporary officer for the 90-day trail period, if Walhalla would receive West Unionís patrol car and other details that need to be settled before a permanent contract is signed.

Despite the concerns, Councilwoman Thelma Miller expressed a strong desire to provide the city’s neighbor with police protection needed immediately.

“There are a lot of unanswered questions but the town of West Union needs police protection,” she said.

Bailes added Walhalla Police Chief Tim Chastain has already been on patrols through West Union in an effort to get acquainted with the area and people and reported that everyone he met was “very appreciative.”

The city of Walhalla will post an advertisement for the temporary position, which it hopes to fill within the next three weeks.