Festival Disagreement, Positive Growth, New Rental Property Fee
April 18, 2012
by Fran Burgess
A major concern of Woodruff Council as far as the budget is concerned is the Woodruff festival. According to City Manager Monroe, $40,000 has been included in the 2013 budget for the PRT committee. Monroe states, “I need direction from council concerning the festival budget.” A rather lengthy discussion occurred concerning this matter among the council, mayor, and city manager. Council members Gist and Sloan both expressed their concern that the money could possibly be used better. Gist stated his concern that, “The festival has been going down for several years,” and Sloan added, “We need to spend money on something that affects the citizens all year long.” Gist continued, “We’ve been doing these festivals for years, and I’ve never seen any benefit to the city of Woodruff. What is wrong with re-grouping?” Mayor Burnett responded that the committee has already booked the Ultimate Air Dogs for the major event and continued, “My biggest concern is the fact that we’ve had some sort of festival for a long time. Council needs to talk to the citizens of Woodruff. The committee’s primary concern is to promote Woodruff.” Earlier Gist and Sloan had mentioned using some of the money to make improvements to the city park. The mayor’s response to that was, “I know we need to finance the park, but I also know that there are other ways to finance the park. We’ve never said that the park is our primary concern until now – instead of the festival.” Council member Smith commented, “Anytime that we can put Woodruff in the spot-light, I think is good,” to which Sloan responded, “But not if it’s costing Woodruff money.” Council member Norman added, “I think maybe we can phase out the festival – just don’t drop it all together this year. I’m more focused on the children of Woodruff; they need a place to play basketball, softball – to keep them off the streets.” The discussion continued with the possibility of paring down the festival, still having the Ultimate Air Dogs, but cutting out the food vendors and other costly activities. Several council members expressed their concern that the food vendors hurt the local restaurants. In paring down the festival, “We can spread the money throughout the year,” Burnett stated. City Manager Monroe ended this discussion stating that she would like to meet with PRT committee members. This matter will be discussed again at the April 24 council meeting. On a more positive note, Mayor Burnett stated that he has spoken with some people who are legitimately looking at Woodruff. He continues, “the city is a gem; we are not perfect by any stretch of our imagination, but there is a level of safety and security here. We have people who are seeing Woodruff and saying, ‘They have a good school system; you can get just about anywhere from Woodruff; you can get to Woodruff from about anywhere.’ We have people calling us and asking, ‘What if’? It’s been a long time since we’ve had people saying, ‘What if?’ We have an opportunity to grow. It is not our objective to figure out how to advance the city limits of Woodruff, but we are trying to figure out how we can use the resources within the city to benefit those outside of the city limits.” The agenda amendments included a reappointment request from Ted Harrison to the Construction Board of Appeals, a request from Tony Davis to be appointed to the Woodruff Housing Authority Board, and a resolution to adopt the Spartanburg County Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan. All three requests were approved. The last request allows Woodruff to receive FEMA funds in the event of a natural disaster. There was a deletion of a presentation from Upstate Alliance to be conducted at a later meeting. Next on the agenda was Building Codes and Zoning Official, Mike Lanford, who proposed an amendment to the Woodruff rental ordinance (Rental Property Registration and Licensing Ordinance). According to Lanford, “With the original ordinance, once we had done the initial inspection, we couldn’t get back into a structure but every four years unless we were asked by the owner or we received a complaint from the tenant. We’ve noticed that a lot of these rental houses have several people moving into and out of the houses in one year. Before they can get their utilities on, they must come in and fill out an application for inspection. We suggested a $15 fee to the tenant and not the landlord. If the inspection passes, we will pass this on to Duke Power. If we find a problem, we will notify the owner to make repairs; then another inspection will be made; this inspection will be free of charge. If itpasses then, we will send everything in so that they can get their utilities.” When asked why this change was necessary, Lanford responded, “ We’ve been getting complaints from tenants with problems; now we can make sure that the houses comply with the city’s maintenance ordinance.” The ordinance did pass the first reading, and there will be a public hearing held at a later date. City Manager Stephanie Monroe then presented the departmental reports for informational purposes only. Josh Waters, a longtime resident of Woodruff, was hired by the City of Woodruff for the maintenance handler position. City Treasurer John Baggett presented the city’s economic review. He stated, “Looking back at last year, we are about at the same place; through our projected revenue from licenses, taxes, state funds, fines, etc., we should be pretty close to budget.” Lastly on the agenda were updates on the Greenway Trail, Rescue 17, and business parking requirements. According to Monroe, “the Mary Black Foundation Grant to help finance the trail has been submitted, and we are just waiting to hear from them.” It was noted that the tax lien on the Rescue 17 building and property is $2000. This property with be part of the trail. Woodruff’s parking requirements for businesses needed to be amended due to the fact that the existing ordinance for a shopping center included a requirement for one parking space per 150 square feet gross floor space. The current parking lot at Patton Square is in non-compliance thus a text amendment is proposed by Manager Monroe to change the required number of parking spaces. A text amendment is used to change only a portion of an ordinance. This was presented for information only at this time. The next council meeting will be Tuesday April 24, 2012.