Kaiser resigns amid town’s financial stress

Blackville will be without a town administrator later this month, and it's unclear when a new one will take over.
Current administrator Ian Kaiser confirmed April 26 he had turned in his letter of resignation earlier in the month. His contract expires May 16. He said he was resigning for budgetary reasons.
Mayor Mike Beasley said Kaiser and council members agreed it would benefit the town to go without an administrator for a while. He said council is not permanently eliminating the administrator position but trying to save money in the short term while council tries to fix the town's finances.
Beasley said, "We looked at the financial situation of the town" and decided to hold off on having an administrator.
Council went into closed session during the March and April regular meetings to discuss whether to renew Kaiser's contract, but a final decision was never made.
"We certainly appreciate the job Ian has done and connections he has made," Beasley said.
The town has been hit hard the past few years with budget shortfalls stemming from lack of revenue, particularly property tax collections.
Council has had to increase water and sewer rates, add a public-works fee and most recently increase the SCE&G franchise fee in order to make up for cash shortages.
Blackville seemed to be heading in the right direction with the current year's budget, but then in January Kaiser said Blackville would receive $75,000 less in property tax collections than expected.
The town's budget has decreased more than 50 percent since 2011.
To try and help solve Blackville's problems, council and Kaiser have been working to bring in new jobs and much needed revenue. The latest idea looks to help local entrepreneurs.
During the April 15 regular council meeting, Harry Crissy, a Clemson University Extension agent, talked about a business planning curriculum for micro-entrepreneurs.
The 12-session course, developed by NXLevel, focuses on teaching young entrepreneurs how to develop a business model. If at least ten people sign up, Crissy will come to Blackville once a week and teach it. There are also scholarships available to pay for the majority of the course's cost, Crissy said.
Beasley said the plan is to start the classes as soon as enough people sign up. He said anyone wanting to take part should get in touch with town officials.
Barbara Brown, also with Clemson Extension, talked about developing community forums that focus on problem solving without a political agenda. The process is called "Deliberative Dialogue."
The goal is to get the public to debate issues in a structured and constructive manner, she said.
Brown said she's been using the technique in communities for over 20 years.
In other business:
Police Chief John Holston said the town's neighborhood watch program, which began last fall, has been a success so far. Holston added there has been a decrease in crime since the program began.
"We urge every citizen to get involved in the neighborhood watch because it truly does work," he said.
Town council was awarded for its public service earlier this year by the Municipal Association of South Carolina. As a prize, a production crew will be in Blackville May 16 to produce a film that will act as a promotional tool for town officials.
Council discussed the option of allowing alcohol at the annual Music and Arts Festival. Councilman Harrison said he spoke to several residents who were in favor of allowing alcohol. Councilman Russ Reed was opposed to the idea, saying it creates liabilities and would make the event less family oriented.
Council discussed a resolution that would require any legal entity using public facilities for events to have its own liability insurance. Kaiser said the resolution is needed to protect the town from lawsuits, but Beasley was opposed.
Beasley said if organizations are trying to better the community, they shouldn't be burdened with added expenses.
The town unanimously passed a resolution to match funding for a community development bloc grant for a water-system project. The grant is $500,000 so the town will have to put up $50,000, which is already budgeted, if it gets the grant.
Councilmember Kelvin Isaac presented a Business of the Month award to Martin's Paint, Body and Towing.