Municipalities unite for change

By Al Dozier

Leaders of municipalities from throughout Lexington County gathered for a special meeting April 19 to address the on-going conflicts with Lexington County Council on road maintenance issues.

Irmo Mayor Bill Danielson said he found the 90-minute at the Lexington Municipal Complex to be positive. He foresees the possibility of Lexington County returning to the original agreement on road maintenance for municipalities, until individual agreements with each municipality could be on the table.

West Columbia Mayor Tem Miles also thought the meeting was productive.

“It was a good meeting, “Miles said. “Our concerns were heard.”

Miles said there were no specific actions adopted, but the positive discussion held during the meeting is likely to address the problems.

Cayce City Councilman Phil Carter also sensed a positive outcome of the 90-minute meeting.         

“I would give it an A-plus,” he said.

Elected officials said Lexington County Council Chairwoman Beth Carrigg appeared to be very receptive to finding a solution. Carrigg was accompanied at the meeting by Lexington County Administrator Lynn Sturkie

Bringing together representatives from all of the county’s municipalities was an unusual event that has a lot of merit, elected officials said. It provided an opportunity for all of those municipalities to have their own voice.

Towns invited to send representatives to the meeting included Lexington, West Columbia, Cayce, Batesburg-Leesville, Gaston, Gilbert, Irmo, Pelion, Pine Ridge, Springdale, South Congaree, and Swansea.

The meeting was called as a response to an outcry of opposition from several town and city leaders in Lexington County over the council’s cancellation of a 40-year-old agreement to provide road maintenance services to municipalities.

The county sought to end the agreement because of the increasing road maintenance costs resulting from the frequent annexations in the growing towns throughout Lexington. The new annexations do not impose the various growth restrictions required by the county’s ordinances.

After cancelling the agreement, the county did provide towns and cities an opportunity to sign off on a new agreement on road services. But it would require that any new residential developments annexed into a town or city must meet Lexington County’s development standards.

Most municipalities did not sign on to the agreement.

Many of them have sent out resolutions to the county expressing their concerns that the county has a responsibility to maintain roads in accordance with local needs.

The calls for solving the problems have been ongoing for the past few months, and included a meeting of the Lexington County Legislative Delegation March 19. Members called on county officials “to work it out.”

Lexington County Council approved a plan at the March 26 council meeting to establish a committee made up of representatives from the municipalities to serve on a panel that would provide an opportunity for input on road maintenance issues.

But so far that plan hasn’t changed the opposition from municipalities.

Officials on both sides say more deliberations are needed.