GREENVILLE – Approximately 50 residents attended the special meeting of Greenville City Council at St. Clair Memorial Hall in regards to a resolution of necessity required to further the proposed sidewalk project. Most of those who spoke expressed concern for the cost of the project to residents. Other spoke with concern toward removing and replacing trees.
“How am I going to pay for this? How are they going to do this?” said Chris Boyd. He was not alone in his concern. Several others spoke and asked council how the elderly on a fixed income or those living below the poverty level were going to pay for these improvements even if the assessment runs for 10 years. Council President Pro Tem John Hensley, the only councilman to speak during the meeting, suggested if his repairs cost $4,000 he would be required to pay $400 additional each year on his taxes and that doesn’t take into consideration interest or service fees council may impose.
One property owner received an estimate of $7,700 in repairs needed.
Dave Tanner not only questioned the cost to property owners phase one, but also wondered how the city would be able to afford this project even if 40 to 50 percent of the property owners completed the project on their own. Tanner asked if the city was able to carry that burden over the course of several years and how it would affect the city. City Auditor Roxanne Willman agreed it could burden the city and some projects could be jeopardized down the road.
Former councilman Tracy Tryon also expressed his concern with the sidewalk improvement project and the cost to the city. He shared the city is trying to catch up on paving projects and using city funds could have a negative impact on that effort. He suggested the city put the issue on the ballot and let the people of Greenville decide if they want the sidewalk project to continue. Several in the audience applauded his statement.
Councilman Hensley said, “To get this, we are going to lose something else. We have to decide if this is really important. We represent the people. We are not here for ourselves. In my mind, if the public doesn’t want this, maybe we shouldn’t do it.”
As stated at the beginning of the meeting, the meeting adjourned without council taking action. They will now be tasked with taking the comments from the public and either formulating a plan to move forward and answering the current unanswered questions. Some of the questions that remain include the scope of the project and if council wants to continue with current size of phase one, what is the length of the assessment and would an interest rate or service fee be charged. Council also has the option of scrapping the entire project.
The ordinance pertaining to the sidewalk improvement project was originally approved by Greenville City Council in 2001, but the city has yet to act upon that ordinance.