Liberty council votes to help bring magistrate’s office to old school

Rocky Nimmons/Courier

Liberty City Councilman Dwight Yates walks fellow council members through the plans for moving the County Magistrate’s office to the former Liberty Middle School site on West Main Street at Monday’s meeting.

By Rocky Nimmons, Publisher

LIBERTY — Liberty City Council members voted in their regular monthly meeting on Monday to change the zoning of 310 West Main Street from Low Density Residential to Core Commercial. The change was to accommodate Pickens County’s plan to move the County’s Magistrate’s office to the location of the old Liberty Middle School.

A statement read by Liberty Mayor Michael Sheriff during the meeting clarified the city’s position on the project.

“The mayor and council recognize the value of this project to the community and have been in complete support of Pickens County’s renovation plans for the previous Liberty Middle School,” Sheriff’s statement said. “The relocation of the County’s Magistrate’s offices and the renovation of the auditorium will only help to beautify Liberty and draw visitors and business to our city. The mayor, city council and our citizens are enthusiastic and supportive of the county’s efforts.

“The city appreciates your commitment on behalf of the City of Liberty and looks toward our continued cooperative relationship. The City of Liberty pledges to work with the county and offer any assistance with our means to see that this project is successful.”

Liberty’s rezoning of the property will allow for the final stages of the property’s development.

Council also voted to rezone properties at 300 West Main and 305 Palmetto Street from General Commercial to Core Commercial, but declined to do so for properties at 211 West Main St., 207 West Main St. and 7 Church St., with councilman Brian Petersen saying that those properties could be revisited when a set plan has been presented for their use.

In other business, the council heard options for employee medical insurance coverage. City insurance representative Mike McAlister said the city had a one-time option to renew by Dec. 1 to lock in rates prior to massive change in 2014 in the health insurance field. He recommended the city renew with only a 7.5 percent increase to avoid possible larger increases when insurance reform takes place in 2014. He told council the rates would be set until Nov. 30, 2014. The city renewed coverage in July of this year. He said the only drawback would be that city employees would have to start over on their deductibles in December. He said there was no way to know the extent of the possible increase the city could face if they declined, but judging from research from other states, it could be extensive.

The mayor and council did not make a decision at the meeting, but plan to study the situation and decide at a later date.