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Aiken City Council to discuss Public Safety building, rate hikes, Northside annexations on Monday

April 22, 2018

The Aiken City Council assembles Monday night for a work session, a regularly scheduled meeting and an executive session.

City Council will first meet at 5 p.m. for a work session, during which members will receive an Aiken Public Safety headquarters update. City Council will also be given a citywide tree survey presentation and will then continue review of department budgets.

The headquarters update will be given by project manager Mark Chostner. Work on the building, adjacent to the Paces Run Apartment Complex, has already begun.

Design, bidding and permitting for the project – valued at a total $10.8 million – are already complete.

The new Public Safety headquarters is on track for an April 2019 dedication, according to City Council documents. Construction is currently in line with its budget.

City Council’s regularly scheduled meeting begins at 7 p.m. An executive session, regarding the purchase and sale of property, will follow.

A presentation from Dr. Sean Alford, the superintendent of the Aiken County Public School District, is among the first couple of items on City Council’s Monday agenda. Alford will be discussing the May 1 $90 million school bond referendum.

The referendum, should it pass, will fund school expansions, construction and upgrades.

The topic is proving controversial, evidenced recently by the sprinkling of signs – “vote yes” and “vote no” – around Aiken County.

City Council will hear a second reading of an ordinance to annex an area stretching up to and including the Northside Park following Alford’s remarks.

The annexation begins at Aldrich Street N.E. and runs along Columbia Highway North.

Northside Park, still under construction, is located just off the highway.

City Council approved a first reading of the ordinance at the start of 2018.

The annexation would provide the City a right of way, which in turn would enable public safety and City services at the park.

In January, City Council referred the annexation to the Planning Commission. In February, the Planning Commission unanimously recommended going through with the annexation.

City Council will also hear a second reading of an ordinance to increase water and sewer rates. If approved on Monday, residents will see a 2 percent increase in their water charges and an 11 percent increase in their sewer charges.

A first reading of the ordinance was approved 5-2 at the beginning of April. City Council members Ed Woltz and Lessie Price voted against the potential raises.

Woltz said he had too many unanswered questions to support the rate hikes.

The increases are the result of payments owed for a $50 million regional treatment plant upgrade. The City’s portion – slightly more than $1 million a year – is part of a larger payment pot that includes North Augusta.

On March 30, the County also notified the City of a 2 percent increase in wholesale treatment charges.

Aiken Mayor Rick Osbon has described the potential rate hikes as a measure of cost absorption.

Other items on Monday’s agenda include: several rezoning requests, an ordinance to accept a concept plan for townhomes on Town Creek Road, and an ordinance to amend the City’s flood damage policy.

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