By Holly Roeder
The City of Henderson Mayor and board of Alderman met Thursday, Oct. 20 in regular session with all in attendance except Alderman Michael Phelps.
Savannah Gilbert, director of the Chester County Library, approached the board concerning funding for library expansion. Having previously addressed the Chester County Commission multiple times, it had been suggested by the commission that Gilbert also present her request to the city.
Gilbert reported the library has had 53,300 visitors to the 4,900 square foot building, with 32,300 items checked out including books, cake pans, learning kits and audio books and 19,900 digital items circulated through the Libby program. More than 133 programs are offered from the local library, drawing 2,100 attendees. Gilbert said they continued operating during COVID-19, stating while most libraries closed, “We were there, expanding our services, improving things in the library for our patrons, we were offering curb side materials…that way we never had to stop serving our community.”
“We have continued to grow despite the things going on in the world.”
Asked what the library was looking for by way of a contribution from the city, Gilbert responded $100,000 had been suggested to her as a possible amount. She said the funds could be used to help with needs inside the expansion, such as furniture, fixtures, shelving and a commercial dehumidifier. Gilbert indicated she will apply for and obtain grants to assist with the costs.
“I think every one of us wants to make sure the library works, but the county has to tell us what they want to do,” stated Mayor Bobby King. King also shared the city’s role in the 1995 construction of the library’s current location, with the city and county each giving $150,000 and some added monies from the state. The city continues to give $4,000 to the library each year.
The board advised Gilbert to return to the county to obtain their decision on the funding and then come back to inform the city.
Alderman Keith Smith said “It is the Chester County Library.” He added the city takes care of the city park – Gene Record Park, comparing $1.4 million the city has put into the park. Referring to the library expansion, “The county’s gotta step up first..”
“And commit,” concluded Alderman Butler.
Alderman Smith stated any funds provided would not come from the city’s ARPA money, as that had already been allocated.
“What we’re going to spend is out of our general service fund,” added Mayor King. “I think we’re committed we just gotta figure out what you really need from us.”
The next item on the agenda was consideration of action on city zoning ordinance to permit electrical vehicle charging stations. Potential locations discussed were the city parking lot on Front St., business areas on Hwy 45 and Hwy 100 and institutional locations such as areas near North Chester Elementary, county schools on Main St. and Freed-Hardeman University, with later possibilities for industrial type zones. Alderman Mark Barber made a motion to amend the municipal zoning ordinance to permit electric vehicle charging stations, which was seconded by Keith Smith. All present were in favor with a roll call vote. The motion passed on the first reading.
A resolution passed unanimously authorizing the City to apply for a PE Parners Property Conservation Grant. Jim Garland stated this grant has been used in the past to help with costs of installing security cameras at the city park and the Record Dr., Utility Department. The grant this year will be used toward installation of security cameras at the Maintenance Building.
In discussion of consideration of approval of an Automatic Aid Agreement between the Chester County Fire Department and the City of Henderson Fire Department, City Attorney Jerry Spore, with input from MTAS, identified necessary legal additions, changes and clarifications, leaving space for the operational side to be drawn out by the fire department. He said he would be available for questions about contract side. Mayor Bobby King set a committee of Fire Chief Kevin Roeder, Alderman Donna Butler and Alderman Jason Rhodes to meet concerning the agreement and to make recommendations for necessary changes.
A motion was passed approving an ordinance and resolution amending water tap fees and water and gas service, connection and reconnection fees. For Water Tap Fees, the current cost of $858 for 3/4” will go to $1,650, $900 for one-inch will increase to $2,250 and $1,200 for two-inch increases to $3,000, plus boring fees if applicable.
City Utility Director Darryl Green explained that material costs have increased by three times in the past year. Where the previous charge for a two-inch water tap was $1,200, it currently costs the city $3,793. “Material costs is getting to the point that we’re losing on every tap we make,” Green said.
The cost for sewer taps will change to $1,500, with the city to provide the “T” and couplings. Previously the charge was $1,000 in city limits and $1,500 out of city limits. The ordinance will also include a requirement that someone from the city is present to ensure the tap is properly installed. These changes will affect new construction, where water and sewer are not already set.
Green said gas meter costs are also increasing by the day. In the month of August, the city lost $5,100 for the cost of gas services. The current cost is a $50 fee plus 100 feet for up to four appliances. The change will give 200 feet plus $3/per foot plus the cost of the gas meter. “It’s been a while since the fee has increased,” Green said, stating that materials are weeks and months out on availability. “The market’s changing by the day…it’s gone up three-fold from what it was two years ago,” adding a part that was $40-45 is now $197.
“I think the total is a reasonable increase,” said Alderman Smith. “It hurts a little, but it’s not going to impact but a few people based on the number of taps we’re doing.”
“It puts the cost where the burden is,” agreed Green.
Alderman Mark Barber make a motion to approve the ordinance, seconded by Alderman Buel Maness. It passed unanimously on the first reading with the second reading next month.
A resolution passed with all in favor to change the after hours fee from $35 to $50 to cover fuel and costs of sending someone out after hours. The resolution raises the fee to reestablish services if cut off from $50 to $75.
The sale of extra inventory of meter heads was approved to a community in Ga., for the exact cost paid by the city, $33,264. These are an older model the city is no longer using, and would have been prorated at 60% to return to the company. Alderman Butler made the motion to approve sale, with Alderman Barber seconding. The motion carried unanimously.
Tim Crowe addressed the board on behalf of the City of Henderson Police Department concerning a drone purchase previously approved for $8500. He stated after further research the HPD had determined to purchase a different model for an additional $8200. This model would have more capabilities, ability to traverse adverse weather conditions, a thermal imaging system, spotlight, speaker equipment, etc. Their intention is to purchase the upgraded model combined with the difference in cost coming from the drug fund over which the police chief has discretionary control. Due to the discretionary nature, no action was necessary by the board.
In other business, Public Works Director Carter Scales shared the department has paved Hill St., Christy Loop and Hill Ext.
Alderman Barber reminded the board about the Trail of Treats Saturday from 2-4 p.m. at Gene Record. Approximately 38 to 39 vendors have committed to set up during the event, including the City.
MTAS assessments of Fire Chief candidates were set for Tuesday. There is a possibility of having interviews with candidates and the board the first week of November.
Jim Garland reported the city is in the process of setting up a new texting system. This is a service residents can sign up for and will provide push notifications from police, traffic alerts/road closings, utilities, meeting notifications, etc.