By City of Dillon Mayor
Pro-Tem Phil Wallace
I would like to thank the City Council for allowing me to be mayor pro-tem for the last year. It has been an eye-opening experience in which I have learned a vast amount and come to appreciate the role as mayor of Dillon and all the duties that it involves. I will say that it has been very easy to participate in the role because we have so many good department heads and such a good city manager in Glen Wagner.
The city is in very stable financial condition. We have had an unqualified audit for the last 11 years. Basically, this means that we are financially moving in the right direction; however, funding depreciation of an aging infrastructure is a challenge. Presently, we have about 3.5 million dollars in combined restricted and unrestricted funds in our water- sewage fund account. We have about 250 days of operating capital in our general fund account. We also have about 1 million dollars in our hospitality account which we use to fund the wellness center and the golf course.
I would like to summarize some of the things that have happened in the different departments.
Code enforcement—There were 10 new business licenses issued in 2019. Eleven commercial and residential buildings were demolished in 2019. There were three commercial properties that began construction with a total worth of about 1.4 million dollars. There were 10 new residential properties that began construction in 2019 costing about $900,000. The city provided 10 façade grants for downtown totaling $30,000.
Downtown events—The Celebrate Main Street Festival in April included food vendors, entertainment, and a band. The festival was done in conjunction with the Chamber of Commerce. In May, we had a corn hole tournament, and 20 teams participated in this. In October, we had Trunk-or-Treat, which was done by the police department, and we had a huge turnout for this. In December, we had our annual Christmas tree lighting and Christmas parade which was a great success. Through the summer, we had Fab Fridays which consisted of entertainment and food vendors on the South Plaza. We also had a St Patty’s Day event with music, food, vendors, and a 5K run.
Fire Department—It was very active this year responding to 163 fire calls Thirty-six of these were structure fires. Also, the fire department held fire prevention seminars at East Elementary, South Elementary, Stewart Heights, Dillon Christian School, and local daycare centers. There were also 12 training meetings for our firemen.
Water and Sewage—The elevated water tank project was completed. This was approximately a 2.2 million dollar project. This gave us 250,000 gallons a day. Unfortunately, this was about 20 feet short, and we actually had to have a crane lift this. We upgraded two pump stations with community development block grants totaling about $753,000. We received $479,000 grant to rehab the Highway 9 Water Tank. We have many challenges in water and sewage as we go forward with hopeful growth in the Dillon community.
Parks and Recreation—The Youth Sports had its largest number of participants in basketball, softball, soccer and volleyball. We hosted a girls basketball tournament and a Dixie Youth baseball tournament. Also, there were five outdoor movie nights at the Wellness Center and the Father/Daughter Dance, which is a huge success every year.
During December, we did breakfast with Santa where approximately $700 was raised for children. The Holiday Goodness had over 700 people attend.
Public Works—They were busy addressing the storm drainage problem. We are actively trying to employ two full-time people in the storm drainage department, and we have also bought a large vactor truck that will allow us to jet clean, vacuum, and video many of our existing drainage pipes. They identified an outflow line that drained Johnson Drive and Lee Circle. There had been a collapse of the outflow line, and city crews replaced 200 feet of 30 inch pipe. This will certainly aid in allowing this area to drain. We also found two beaver dams located between Dillon and Latta that drains most of downtown Dillon. These have been destroyed, and we expect this will resolve a lot of the flooding issues downtown when we have a large amount of rain We must note that when we have 28 inches of rain in a 24-hour period of time that no amount of drainage is going to keep you from flooding.
City Beautification – This group continues to work on damaged trees and landscaping to maintain this, and it also cuts about 10 miles of roadway during the summer.
Sanitation—We have bought a new garbage truck with automated pick up.
Golf Course—We are continuing to improve the fairways and greens. The club currently is probably cleaner than it has been in 35 years.
The City Police Department—They were dispatched and responded to 12,767 calls. Of that, 4,109 of them were traffic stops. There were 340 assaults, and this was a decrease from 372 assaults in 2018. Of the 340 assaults, 69 of them were domestic, and 113 were simple assaults. There were five kidnappings, five forcible rape cases, and seven criminal sexual conducts with minors. There were 114 drug arrests in 2019. There were two manslaughters during this time period, and both have been solved. There have been 90 violent crimes, and 73 of them have been solved. Property crimes were 102, and 48 of these have been solved. There were 16 financial crimes, and 12 have been solved. There were 10 shoplifting cases, and 9 of them have been solved. There have been three harassment cases, and all of these were resolved.
Future city plans include:
1. Water and Sewer aggressively applying for grants to upgrade additional sewer lift stations, upgrading the Hudson Street Water Plant, and doing a Wastewater Study for future growth, and also working on securing grants to help mitigate wastewater infrastructure that flood due to heavy rains.
2. Downtown staff working to secure grants that will likely bring business to the downtown area. The city received a $25,000 grant from the Municipal Association of South Carolina to do a Master Plan for downtown. A company has been hired to do the study and they are beginning to meet with staff, businesses, and property owners to get feedback. This process will take nine months to complete, and then council will begin implementing the plan.
3. The city & First Bank have agreed to swap properties that will allow First Bank to build a new bank on Hwy. 301 with the City receiving ownership of the existing bank on Main Street to possibly house the City Police Department in the future.
4. New businesses are beginning to locate on Main Street, and to help the owners, the City passed legislation which would allow new businesses and existing businesses to recoup some of the construction cost by applying for incentives from the city. These incentives do not cost the taxpayers any additional funds. Incentives include reduced Water & Sewer tap fees, reduced permit fees, and reduction of Hospitality and Accommodation fees over a two-year period.
5. One of the largest expenses for the city is health insurance for its employees. The city is discussing ways of decreasing this expense by using the State Health Plan.
In summary, there are many of challenges for Dillon, but in these challenges, there is a great deal of opportunity. I look forward to serving the City of Dillon in 2020 for as long as I am needed.
By City of Dillon Mayor