After some confusion regarding the distribution schedule of round III Capital Project Sales Tax funds, Aiken County Council advanced several thousand dollars to the towns of Windsor and Wagener.
On Sept. 17, Council approved the motion to advance $150,000 to Wagener and $12,000 to Windsor. Both towns are scheduled to receive these funds later in the fall, but requested an advance because they have already started several of their projects.
The final check for the last round of sales tax money and the first batch of round III came in around April, according to County Administrator Clay Killian. The smaller municipalities, like Wagener, Windsor and Burnettown, receive the lump sum of their money before the County and cities of North Augusta and Aiken get their allocations.
But, the towns are listed in alphabetical order on the ballot meaning that they receive their funds in that sequence.
Wagener and Windsor officials thought they would receive their money in April and began a few of their projects. But with the two being at the bottom of the list of small towns, the amount of the first check stopped short of them. Wagener and Windsor will not receive their Capital Projects Sales Tax funds until the next wave of money comes in October.
Wagener Mayor Mike Miller said they were told to expect the funding in April and went ahead with several of their projects because it was urgent. Several new police cars were purchased, and more importantly, a backhoe to help with broken water lines. Miller wrote in a letter to County Treasurer Jason Goings that they needed the money as soon as possible because every debt they have connected to those items purchased “is past due, currently due or soon to be due.”
The Town had a 1972 Army surplus backhoe, but it was starting to malfunction and wasn't safe to use, Miller said. Then, a line break occurred near the Piggly Wiggly, and without a backhoe to fix the issue, about 35 percent of the town would have been without water.
Miller said with each round of sales tax money, they all learn something new and don't fault anyone for the confusion.
“I will never, ever again, if I'm still mayor, count these chickens until they're hatched,” Miller said. “I appreciate the actions of Council, the Treasurer Jason Goings and the administration.”
Windsor Mayor Frank Mizell said they started work on the town park and needed the funds to complete the project.
The total amount of round III funds designated to go to Wagener is $1,070,000. Windsor will receive a total of $81,000.
Killian said in the future, the Capital Project Sales Tax ballot may schedule a portion of funds to go to each small town to assure they all get something in the first quarter.
The County will be reimbursed when the next round of sales tax funds come in later this fall.
Amy Banton is the County beat reporter and has been with the Aiken Standard since May 2010.