Council hears animal shelter concerns

NEWBERRY COUNTY — Newberry County Council held public hearings on various budget ordinances and made appointments to county boards at their June 1 meeting.

During council’s public hearing on the appropriations for FY 2022-23, public comments were heard from the Newberry Humane Society. Included in the proposed budget are increases to Animal Control’s fees. Jenelle Frick, a member of the group, spoke against the raising of fees.

“There are people in the community whose dogs get picked up and they don’t go and redeem them because they don’t have the money to pay the redemption.” Frick said.

She went on to voice concern that this will result in more animals being left in the shelter and ultimately being put down.

As proposed, redemption fees for animals picked up would increase from $10 to $25 for the first day and from $5 to $10 for additional days. Adoption fees for cats would go up from $65 to $75 and dogs from $85 to $100.

Councilperson Henry Livingston said that he appreciated the Newberry Humane Society bringing the fee increase to council’s attention.

“I’ll be man enough to tell you I have not seen the amount of the increase. I know I should, but if you had not brought it to my attention. So, just to let you know the value of coming and speaking,” Livingston said.

Frick also stated that the hours the shelter are open are limiting to those looking to redeem their pets. As an answer to that Council Chair Todd Johnson said that the shelter is looking at at least one Saturday a month to open the shelter.

In other business, council approved third and final reading for rezoning of parcel 653-61 on Macedonia Church Road from RS-Single Family Residential to R2-Rural. Property owner Robin Harper said the rezoning was to allow chickens and more than two horses on the property for their children.

Third readings were also approved for Ordinance 04-09-2022 establishing minimum rules and regulations to regulate disposal of refuse in Newberry County and penalties for violations, and Ordinance 05-10-22 which is a false fire alarm ordinance. The false alarm ordinance is intended to encourage proper maintenance of alarms in the county. Councilperson Nick Shealy said the county had 21 false alarms to one location within the last month, and resources will be saved with the enforcement of this regulation.

Under the new false alarm ordinance the first three false alarms are without penalty, the fourth violation is a minimum $150 fine, fourth is a minimum $250 fine and fifth and subsequent alarms will be a minimum of $500.

A new memorandum of understanding (MOU) was approved by council with the Upper Savannah Workforce Area. Ann Skinner with the organization was in attendance to answer any questions about the MOU, there were none and it passed unanimously.

Council approved third readings for an ordinance to purchase a fire truck as previously approved by council and a third reading of the General Obligation Bond of Newberry County.

Second reading of an ordinance to amend Chapter 34 of the County Code passed regarding the sale and transfer of surplus county property.

Council also approved the second reading of the Capital Project Sales Tax (CPST) 1% sales tax. This is a continuation of the tax that is already in place.

On first reading was a rezoning request for .78 acres, TMS parcel 395-39 (35 Oak Hollow Road, Newberry), from RS Single Family Residential to R2-Rural for the potential of a manufactured home. Newberry County Zoning Administrator Katie Werts said this rezoning was not recommended by planning staff due to the area being in the Economic Development Overlay and is not supported by the comprehensive plan. However, the planning commission did recommend the rezoning by a 7-1 vote. Council passed first reading with Livingston opposed.

Revisiting 2017 CPST projects, council approved first reading of expenditure of CPST funds for the reconstruction of the building behind Whitmire Town Hall. Originally, the project was for remodeling of the building, but cost to tear down and rebuild will be less than the remodel. Theo Dubose said that the project will require an additional $122,000. Karen Bremmer, deputy county administrator, stated that the funds are available in over-collection of tax funds. The building’s intended usage is for ADA compliant offices for the Town of Whitmire.

Following executive session, council made appointments to various boards. Councilperson Johnny Mack Scurry appointed Terry Russell to the Fire Board and Roy Roe to the Rescue Board. Councilperson Mary Arrowood made a motion to reappoint Candace Frick to the Newberry County Memorial Hospital board. All appointments were approved unanimously.

Andy Husk is the publisher of The Newberry Observer, reach him at 803-768-3117.