Denmark approves first reading of budget

Denmark City Council members gave their approval to the first reading of the city’s fiscal year 2011 budget that was noted will include no tax increase again this year. A situation that officials say will make it harder for the city to maintain services over the long haul.

After a short wait to secure a quorum, council members unanimously approved the first reading of a $1,250,500 General Fund Budget and a separate $1,072,000 Water and Sewer Fund Budget for fiscal year 2011. Two readings of the budgets are required before they are approved.

Mayor Gerald Wright said the City hadn’t seen a tax increase in several years and it was getting more difficult to maintain some of the City’s services. “It’s becoming quite a challenge to maintain services without any tax increase year-after- year,” Wright said.

In other business:

• Council heard a report from the City Finance Director Rusty Munoz who reported that for the period of July 1, 2009 through April 30, 2010 the city’s total revenue in excess of expenses was $31,675.25; Intergovernmental revenues continue to be less than budgeted and Water and Sewer Fund finances continue to improve.

• Police Chief Leroy Grimes reported the police department created 57 cases files for the month. The police chief announced the hiring of Dennis W. Bowen on May 6, leaving only one vacancy on the police force to be filled.

• Assistant Fire Chief Paul Eubanks reported the fire department responded to one structure fire, one vehicle fire, two assist EMS, one grass fire and eight false alarms during the month. The fire department is averaging 8-10 people per call and has a total of 31 members and the Lady’s Auxiliary. Assistant Chief Eubanks stated that the department responded to a recent incident at Voorhees College involving potentially dangerous chemicals. “All went well,” Eubanks said. “It went very smoothly,” he added. He praised the Lady’s’ Auxiliary as “being indispensable” to the fire department. “They bring relief to us when we respond to any prolonged incident and to us on county calls,” Eubanks added.

• City Council members approved the expenditure of $2,835 for a grapple bucket from Guess Equipment Company that will include installation. The grapple bucket will be placed on a 5200 series Ford Tractor to pick up garbage in the city that was noted in recent months as being a problem.

• Council members tabled a bid to prep, scrape and paint the front and side of the Dane Theatre for $6,250 with the city supplying the paint. Council members said they wanted to seek more competitive bids on the paint job before making a final decision. Mayor Wright stated changes in the council’s committee system would dictate that each council member chair one committee and serve on two other committees. Denmark City Council members were appointed to the following committees: Law Enforcement, Evert Comer; Fire Department, Bonnie Love; Administration and Finance, Jake Bookard; Recreation, James Robinson; Planning and Zoning Bervay Carter and Sanitation, Streets and Water Works, Hope Long Weldon.