Irmo approves garbage fee hike

By Al Dozier

The Irmo Town Council approved an increase in residential garbage fees to $300 per year in the 2022 tax bill, but not without hearing complaints and holding a lengthy discussion.

Commenting during the public participation period, Irmo resident David Stewart was concerned his bill has been going up at a high rate, from $225 in 2017 to $255 this year. He said the increase next year to $300 is too much, amounting to a 42 percent increase over four years.

“This fee is one-third of my current tax bill,” he said.

Town officials said the increase is necessary to offset the rising cost of trash disposal, including household garbage, recycling and yard wastes.

Council members could not see any alternative to raising the rates as the costs continue to rise.

“I hate it but we have to do garbage collections,” said Kelly Busch.

Mayor Barry Walker Sr. said the increases are necessary to cover rates that will continue to rise for the next few years.

“We can’t change the costs,” said Councilwoman Kathy Condom.

But council members agreed local residents need to see the billings the town gets so they can comprehend the necessity for an increase in fees

“Let our citizens see the costs,” said Councilman Bill Danielson. “We need to be more transparent.”

The town will communicate with the public about the rising costs, possibly using the town’s web site.

There was also some discussion about communicating with other towns facing the same problems and consider ways to control the rate hikes.

The council gave first reading approval to an ordinance providing for a local hospitality tax on the sale of prepared meals and beverages that would go into effect June 1, 2021. A tax of 2 percent would be imposed in Lexington County, and 1 percent in Richland County on the gross proceeds of the sale of prepared meals and beverages in the town of Irmo.

Council members agreed the town needed the additional revenue source, and noted it would mostly be paid for by out of town visitors stopping by local restaurants.

The council received a positive report from Highsmith & Highsmith CPAs on the town’s annual audit for the year ending June 30, 2020.

After financial statements for the year were reviewed, the audit found that financial operations were in accordance with nationally accepted accounting principles. The town’s assets exceeded its liabilities at the close of the fiscal year by $6,099,008

The council gave first reading to an ordinance to rezone property at 10534 Broad River Road from Single-Family to General Commercial. Council members agreed the zoning change is appropriate because the site is already surrounded by commercial properties.

The council approved the purchase of 300 recycle roll-carts from Otto Environmental in the amount of $15,425.12.

The council agreed to file a lawsuit against the owner of a dilapidated property at 1250 Lake Murray Boulevard, a site at the corner of Lake Murray Boulevard and Woodrow Street adjacent to the railroad tracks that has brought community complaints for years.

The council gave first-reading approval to an ordinance that changes the number of council meetings to be held each month from two to one. The council will hold a monthly “work session” in place of the second meeting.

The council presented an encased “Key to the City” to the family of Barbara Willm in honor of her long-time service to the Irmo community. Willm, who is currently recovering from an illness, is a leader in the midlands healthcare community.

The council recognized Jo-Lins Bridal as the November Small Business of the Month.

The council received an update from Whitt Cline, director of public services, on a successful recycling event which was described as the biggest such event ever held in Irmo. Some 67 tons of material were recycled as more than 1,200 people drove up.

The council approved an updated contract with the Sister Hazel band that permits a $10,000 down payment originally received for the 2020 Okra Strut Festival, which was cancelled, to be applied to the 2021 festival. The council agreed to cancel the December 1 council meeting as the town celebrates the annual tree-lighting ceremony in the town park. The council may have to call a special meeting