A new general obligation bond issue for golf course and community center improvements, and to set up a storm water utility department, will bring the city to within $174,000 of its debt ceiling if it passes second reading.
The city council approved the $350,000 package on first reading 4-1 Monday night with Councilman George Sheppard opposed. The package does not require a referendum because it falls below the state-imposed debt ceiling of 8 percent of the assessed value of taxable land inside the city. It includes $131,513 to make improvements to the Cove Nine on the Tega Cay Golf Course, $144,000 to set up a storm water utility system, $50,000 to pave the parking lot at the course and Phillip T. Glennon Community Center and $25,000 to cover the cost of issuing the bonds.
"I've sat up here since the 14th of January and all I've done is spend money," Sheppard, elected to his first term last fall, said in opposing the bond. "I have a problem spending $50,000 on something that I don't see needs to be done."
Sheppard argued, unsuccessfully, that the gravel parking lot at the community center would be sufficient until more money becomes available in the future. He pointed to the transfer of money from a recreation fund required of Gardendale developer Drake Capital to cover the cost of finishing half of the lower level of the community center as evidence of the need to control spending.
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"I've spent a lot of money on that building trying to build a high class building and to have the high heels stuck in the mud in the parking lot is not acceptable," Councilman Les Conner countered. "What's another $50,000 at this point?"
Councilman John Dervay proposed taking out a bond for as much as $500,000, which would have left the city with only $24,000 under its debt cap, to replace as much as $150,000 of the $320,000 Drake Capital pulled from a parks and recreation fund to pay for the Glennon Center downstairs construction. But Dervay abandoned the idea after some discussion.
There was no disagreement on the council about the other aspects of the bond package. The city has known since 2005 it would have to spend money to refurbish the Cove Nine if it wanted to maximize its investment in the golf course. Based on course manager Pinnacle Golf's numbers, the expense will be repaid through more paid rounds of golf within 48 months of doing the work, City Manager Grant Duffield said.
The city is required to set up a storm water utility under state law. AMEC, the company that will be helping the city create the utility including a rate structure will also assist the city in its initial reporting duties to S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control and other agencies.