Easley council clears up business before holidays

By Ben Robinson
Special to the Courier

EASLEY — A small group of citizens took a break from the holiday season Monday night to help the city of Easley conduct a few matters of business.

“Looks like we’re going to have a pretty brief meeting, unless something happens pretty soon,” Mayor Larry Bagwell said before beginning the meeting, as he looked at the night’s brief agenda and the small crowd in attendance.
The meeting went as quickly as Bagwell predicted.

Each council member passed on the opportunity to present a report, choosing instead to wish Easley citizens a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Councilman Chris Mann added his thanks to Lisa Garrett for her work with the city’s Farmer’s Market and the Community Garden.

Councilman David Watson was not present due to his back problems, Bagwell reported.

Nobody signed up for the opportunity to address council.

Jason White, from the accounting firm of Byerley, Payne and White gave the city a clean audit for 2012, despite lower collections for both business licenses and property taxes. White reported that the city remained sound with $4 million in the bank.

Council voted to change the manner in which accommodations taxes are collected to meet new state requirements.

Council also changed the manner in which taxes are collected from insurance companies.

“We’re not changing the amount we collect, but the way we collect it,” city administrator Fox Simons said. “Because of new state regulations, we could lose $1.2 million in taxes annually if we don’t change.”

Council then voted to renew a five-year contract with Barnes Associates and BB&T to consult on employee benefits.

Simons explained that when the city’s initial five-year contract with the companies expired, the city contacted several other companies for bids, but Barnes Associates and BB&T offered the most attractive bid.
Council approved the motion with a 6-0 vote.

With business complete, council adjourned from the meeting.