Town Council calls work session to revisit water project

Batesburg-Leesville Town Council looks to meet at least twice this coming week for a Monday night work session and a likely meeting later in the week to try to finalize a Fiscal Year 2020-21 budget before the fiscal year ends next week.

The Batesburg-Leesville Town Council has scheduled a work session for tomorrow night (Monday, June 22) to revisit a familiar topic: the future of water service in the Town. The work session starts at 6 p.m. at Town Hall.

By ordinance, a special meeting may be called if agreed upon by four members of Council. According to Town Manager Ted Luckadoo, Council members Steve Cain, Cynthia Etheredge, Bob Hall and Shirley Mitchell requested Monday’s work session.

On the table for discussion again is the question of how the Town will provide water to the residents of Batesburg-Leesville. In March, the Town Council voted 6-0 – with three Council members absent – to purchase finished water from the Lexington County Joint Municipal Water and Sewer Commission (JMWSC).

Council members Cain, Etheredge and Mitchell did not attend that March meeting. Councilman Hall voted in favor of the JMWSC contract at that time.

However, as work began on the $8.1 million Town budget for the upcoming Fiscal Year 2020-21, the decades-old water issue again reared its head. Councilmen Cain and Hall questioned in a June 2 budget work session whether buying from JMWSC is, in fact, the most cost-effective option for Town water service.

At the Council’s regularly scheduled monthly meeting June 8, five members – including Cain, Etheredge, Hall and Mitchell, joined by Councilwoman Johnnie Mae Speach-Lemon – voted down the FY2020-21 budget first reading. The budget failed on a 5-4 tally, and the water debate was a contributing factor to the final “no” vote.

Town Council had to call a special meeting two nights later, during which a second attempt at budget first reading passed by a 6-2 vote. Council members Etheredge and Speach-Lemon reversed their “no” votes from two nights earlier, and Councilwoman Mitchell did not attend the June 10 called meeting.

Depending on the outcome of tomorrow night’s work session, Town Council likely will reconvene for another called meeting this Wednesday night (June 24) with a public hearing and second reading on the upcoming year’s budget. The public is encouraged to attend both Monday evening’s work session and Wednesday’s called meeting (if it occurs) to witness their elected officials in action and to hold them accountable.