Rock Hill budget gains easy approval

The city of Rock Hill's 2007-2008 budget glided to a smooth approval on Monday night, earning few objections and only one comment from a local resident.

The biggest reason for the harmony: No tax increases.

Increases to the water and electric rates will cause customers to see a $2.72 average increase on their monthly bills. No increases are planned to sanitation, stormwater or wastewater fees.

Only one person showed up to speak during the public feedback period. Frequent city critic Tony Jannetta offered his endorsement but added that he'd like to see a salary freeze for the top earners at City Hall. The idea seemed to attract little support.

Meanwhile, Councilman Kevin Sutton cast the lone vote against the $156.3 million spending plan. Sutton pressed City Manager Carey Smith on why the budget doesn't call for hiring six more police officers, as has been discussed in recent months.

Smith said he wants to give the department's new street crimes unit more time to get established before making a decision. "We did look at that real carefully," he said.

After the meeting, Sutton declined to talk to The Herald about his vote. One more approval is needed for the budget to become official.

Dial-a-ride to launch in July

The dial-a-ride van system should be ready for its debut in Rock Hill sometime in July.

The service was supposed to start April 1, but a contract agreement needed between the city and York County hit a series of roadblocks that ignited back-and-forth sniping. The City Council voted unanimously to approve the contract Monday night.

Councilman John Gettys called for the creation of an advisory group to make sure the service evolves to meet future needs. "So when it is the time to grow," he said, "we know what areas of our population it should grow to."

Passengers can call two days in advance to reserve rides anywhere in the city for one-way fares of $2.50. It's open to anyone, but seniors are viewed as the target audience because they often don't have access to cars.