Salem officials untangling a big knot
By BROOKS TAYLOR
Mt. Pleasant News
SALEM — Former City Clerk Carolyn Bolin told the Salem City Council Tuesday night that she and current City Clerk Rhonda White are attempting to untangle a web of financial messes in city accounts.
Bolin, who was city clerk for a quarter of a century before leaving city government in 2012, is working as a volunteer in city hall, assisting and training White, who has been city clerk for just a few months.
“It is difficult to get it figured out,” Bolin said, referring to city finances. “It is taking a lot of time. The (water) contract with Hillsboro was not done last year and a lot of annual reports were filed late.”
She said most of the problems are inaccurate fund balances and receipts lumped together in the general fund rather than being put together in the appropriate accounts.
“I really appreciate Carolyn’s help,” White said. “She has found quite a few discrepancies.”
Bolin also complimented White for her work on delinquent accounts. “There were a lot of delinquent accounts and the new clerk is working very hard at collecting them.”
White will be assisted by Bolin for about another month to six weeks before the latter leaves for her winter home in Arizona. The pair said they will keep the city informed on the financial picture.
The council approved a contract with Mike Barton to replace the sidewalk on the east side of the square. Salem began a square sidewalk replacement program two years ago and, thus far, has replaced the sidewalk on the west side of the square, which was done two years ago.
It was hoped that replacement on the other three sides of the square would have proceeded more quickly and the replacement had been on council agendas for nearly a year but had been tabled.
Barton’s bid of two years ago was $14,056 to replace sidewalk and add curb and gutter to the east side of the square. He told Salem Councilman Warren Barton that even though two years had elapsed, he would hold the price from two years ago.
Bill Wixom Jr., the only council member who voted against the motion to replace the sidewalks, said he wanted to advertise for bids. “It’s a two-year-old project, wouldn’t it be wise to get bids,” Wixom asked.
Warren Barton said that if the council were to get bids, the sidewalk would not be replaced this year. “The north side should have been done this year if we stayed with the plan. I know there is opposition to the city paying for it, but everybody uses the sidewalks around the square. It is not like we are doing it in front of someone’s house.”
Dave Helman reported on the income survey the city is conducting. The survey is a requirement for an urban housing rehabilitation grant that Salem is seeking. Helman said the city is nearing its goal of an 80-percent return.
“We need about 10 more surveys and we can fill out the grant application,” Helman began. “We really only need five but I am going after 10 just to be sure. Let’s hit it again for a week. Hopefully we can wind this up quickly.”
Action on new utility (water, sewer and garbage) was tabled. Councilman Chuck Kramer said he was awaiting a bid from the sanitation contractor before making a recommendation. The councilman said water and sewer rates have not been adjusted since 1996.
Wixom said he has discussed improvements to the Liberty and Main streets intersection with the county engineer and the engineer will write a proposal that will be discussed during the October council meeting.
Final action saw the council giving Makayla Osier permission to use the community center for a fund-raiser and agreed to waive the rental fee. Osier is fund-raising for a trip to Europe next summer as part of the Ambassadors of Europe Tour. She said she was nominated for the tour by her band instructor.
Council members meet again in regular session Tuesday, Oct. 1, at 7 p.m. at the Community Center.