Williston council talks trash, gangs

Gangs and garbage headlined the agenda during Williston Town Council's regular meeting July 8.
Council members discussed a plan proposed by the Barnwell County Sheriff's Office to start a drug and gang task force in the county. At a June 18 meeting of officials from around the county Sheriff Ed Carroll asked the local governments to help fund a county-wide gang task force. Carroll made the point that gang violence and drug activity are escalating in Barnwell County.
The task force would have at least four officers assigned to focus solely on gangs and would be funded by the county and municipalities.
Under the plan, the county would provide half the funding and each town would pay $10 per resident. So Williston, with about 3,200 residents, would pay $32,000.
The plan is still in its infancy, and Barnwell County Council has not taken any action on it, but Williston Mayor Tommy Rivers said he thinks the extra law enforcement is needed.
"We have got to make preparations to try and head it off," Rivers said about the increasing gang activity.
Town Administrator Roger LeDuc said it's a "pretty serious situation." He said now is the time to take action because the town has the funds available. The new fiscal year's budget includes savings of about $100,000, LeDuc noted.
Council took no direct action on the matter, but all members present said they were in favor of the plan. Councilman Brett Williams and Mayor Pro Tem Wanda Matthews were not at the meeting during the discussion about the task force, although Williams did arrive later.
Also during the meeting, council approved a plan to keep residential garbage collection in-house.
The town had been flirting with the idea of privatizing garbage collection to cut costs. The plan was to privatize the service if the cost to residents would stay at $10 a month, but the three bids from companies to operate the service all required increasing the solid waste fee.
LeDuc came up with an alternate plan involving two parts, which was unanimously approved by council.
The first part requires the town to stop collecting trash from businesses, which would cut garbage collection from five to three days a week. Businesses will have to get their services from a private provider. The town will now collect residential trash two days a week and yard trash one day a week.
The second part of the plan calls to use two part-time employees and a one inmate laborer to collect trash.
LeDuc said the new plan will lower the solid waste fee to under $9 a month for residents.
Current full-time and part-time employees will have the opportunity to re-apply for the part-time positions.
The town will also have to purchase a new garbage truck as part of the plan. LeDuc said the town's current truck, which is six years old, has several mechanical problems. LeDuc recommended buying a truck for $141,545 from Christopher Truck, which had the lowest bid among four companies. The town will either use a loan, bond or a lease-purchase to buy the truck, LeDuc said.
In other business:
Council approved a contract to use inmate labor. The contract is with the S.C. Department of Corrections and says the town can use up to six inmates per day at $15 a day per inmate. The inmates will work a variety of jobs for the town - from yard work to garbage collection. They will work year-round and will replace seasonal employees the town used in the past.
Council approved an ordinance that changes the zoning of a piece of property on Pruitt Street from single family residential to single and two family residential.