Ehrhardt should charge for use of Town Hall

An Ehrhardt citizen and business owner told Ehrhardt Town Council members they should consider charging a fee for the use of its assets at Tuesday night’s meeting.

Frank Ogle told council members the town has a habit of allowing citizens to use the town hall for storage purposes for free.

“The town is hurting for money and all those facilities and assets of the town have to be maintained,” Ogle said. “We make comments constantly about not having money to maintain properties, but we're not charging any money to any or all organizations that might want to use them- When you set that criteria up, that it is available to all people.”

Ogle said businesses in Ehrhardt, like Rachel’s Restaurant, that have a meeting place and use to charge a fee, “small or not,” must be taken into consideration as to how the present policy of the town not charging fees has affected their livelihoods.

Ogle said when citizens want to use the State of South Carolina facilities at Rivers Bridge State Park, that is four miles from Ehrhardt, there is a fee. He stated whenever an organization “good or bad, profit or nonprofit, uses the city of Bamberg Civic Center, “it’s not for free.” He added the town of Ehrhardt had a right to the use of the town’s assets as it chooses, but not without due process of law.

“I think a small consideration must be given- whether it’s the Lions Club, Schuetzenfest or the churches, each of those organizations must be made to bare a cost that is competitive with others in the area," Ogle said.

Mayor Bill Stanley said Schuetzenfest has done some things to help the County of Bamberg. Ogle commented that the funds obtained from charging various organizations could be put back in the general fund to be used in the town.

Stanley told Ogle that council would take his proposal under consideration.

Also during the meeting:

• Fire Chief Chad Dilling reported that the department responded to 10 fire calls during the months of February and March. A FEMA Grant of $180,000 on a new tanker truck is still pending. The grant would require a five percent match or approximately $9,000 if approved. Three firefighters are now certified to use the recently purchased “jaws of life” unit. Dilling asked that the town consider putting bags over newly installed fire hydrants to show they are not operable at this time.

• Councilmember's approved the sale of an old police car for $2,500, with the proceeds to be used for the purchase of new radar to be installed in the new police car at a cost of $1,200.

• In an update on the cell phone tower it was reported that equipment is to be put on the tower this week. A representative of the Verizon Cell Phone Company will attend the next council meeting to explain what services are on the tower.

• Council members agreed to request a $1,000 recreation grant from the County of Bamberg for the purchase of equipment for the recreation program.