City Council holds special meeting

Elyssa Haven for The Newberry Observer

NEWBERRY – City Council passed second and final reading Friday of an ordinance to amend the purchase power adjustment calculation. The Piedmont Municipal Power Association (PMPA), where the city purchases their power, has voted to issue each PMPA participating city a wholesale credit on their bill for the next 11 months based on their base billing demand.

The total amount expected to be credited to Newberry over this time period is approximately $1.9 million. The base billing demand for the City of Newberry will increase starting in May 2018 by approximately $17,000 per month. City staff is requesting that the city retain approximately 50% of the credit and place into reserves. The remaining 50% will be credited to customer’s accounts and will be enough to cover the increase in base billing demand and decrease the wholesale power cost by an additional $353,000. Motion was made by Councilman Thomas Louis Boyd and seconded by Councilman David DuBose.

Under new business, Boyd made a motion that was seconded by DuBose to add the approval for negotiations of the city manager’s contract to the agenda. This item was added due to the time sensitivity of City Manager Matt DeWitt’s contract agreement which ends in March. Council agreed with a unanimous vote. With the vote, council can now proceed to review the contract.

Also under new business, council approved first reading of an ordinance to provide reimbursement to a residential property owner of development costs associated with water and/or sewer construction.

City Manager Matt DeWitt said that Section 4-2 of the City Code deals with the reimbursement by the City of Newberry for certain expenses in connection with commercial, industrial and residential property development.

This proposed ordinance would be in addition to Section 4-2 which gives the developer a portion of the increase in tax revenue and helps offset costs of roads, curbs and storm sewer and would address the offset costs of water and sewer lines.

DeWitt said cities with a Commission of Public Works are giving a tax increase split on their general fund side and an incentive on the CPW/enterprise. This ordinance puts the city on a level playing field and makes them competitive with cities that have a CPW or other utilities serving their customers.

According to the ordinance, no developer would receive compensation until an electric meter is placed in service.

“This ordinance clearly outlines the payback to the developer,” DeWitt said.

Mayor Foster Senn said his concern would be that a smaller developer may be challenged by this agreement if it would be a few years before they received any sort of payback and asked city staff to “keep a watchful eye that we may be able to alter the ordinance in the future to better work with all developers.”

Elyssa Haven for The Newberry Observer