Friday, January 6, 2017

Saving You Some Money and Keeping Employees Safe - What Could Be Better Than That?

By Robin Entrekin - Director of Human Resources and Risk Management

The Experience Modifier Rate (EMR) used by insurance companies can have a monumental effect on Workers’ Compensation premiums.  Much like a homeowner pays a higher premium after filing a claim, the EMR is used by insurers to determine an organization’s workers compensation premium based on the number and severity of claims. 
For instance, if your EMR is 1.25, where 1 is the industry standard, then you would pay an additional 25% increase in premiums.  Likewise, if your EMR is .97, you would pay 3% less in premiums.

Due to our employees’ dedication to the city’s comprehensive safety and risk management program, the City of Clinton will enjoy an EMR of .9 renewal versus 1.05 last year; or a 15% reduction in premiums.  This means thousands of dollars in savings that will go to offset routine increases and put additional taxpayer’s dollars to better use for our citizens.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Palmetto Pride Awards the City $10K

The City of Clinton received a $10,000 Palmetto Pride Community Pride Grant this week to purchase commercial grade park benches and garbage receptacles for the Industrial Supply Company warehouse complex on W. Main Street. The Palmetto Pride Grant will be used in conjunction with the $25,000 MASC Hometown Economic Development Grant the City received in November.

Although the MASC grant will only focus on master planning the site, the Palmetto Pride grant will allow the City to purchase some pedestrian amenities that will be outlined in the plan. The park benches are items that will certainly be needed and will encourage residents to spend time in the “warehouse district.” The trash receptacles will be a reminder for them to keep Clinton litter-free. This will be important especially during downtown festivals and events. The ultimate goal is to promote community involvement in the downtown area in order to increase vibrancy, pride and sense of place.

Reflections on 2016

As 2016 draws to a close, let’s take a moment to reflect on some primary accomplishments from the previous year that have helped our city take bold steps forward:

I 26 Commerce Park: A year ago there was no Class A Industrial Park with vacant space for future job growth in our county, but today, thanks to the work of numerous partners including the City of Clinton, Laurens County, LCDC, CEDC, LEC, and others, a new industrial park rises on I-26. The I-26 Commerce Park features a development ready pad, a 75,000 square foot speculative building, and 750 acres of property for future development and growth.

Fire Division Rating: Thanks to the hard work and dedication of our Public Safety personnel, our Fire Division has successfully reduced its ISO rating from a four to a two, making it one of the elite departments in the state. This improvement in performance was completed without an increase in the budget or operating costs.

Main Street Clinton: Nearly two years in the making, the City of Clinton was one of only two cities to be accepted into the Main Street South Carolina program for 2016 – place our community in an intensive three year boot camp program designed to enhance the downtown district.

Private Investment: For the first time in decades, significant private investment is improving our city. The Young Building in downtown is getting an $850,000 facelift. Nearly $8 million in projects on Presbyterian College’s campus is resulting in an improved facility for the college students, ten new single family residences were constructed this year, and nearly $3 million in private dollars are being used to building the speculative building.

This New Year - Don't be a Victim

I won a Mercedes.

To be specific I won a white Mercedes E-Class convertible. Now that’s pretty awesome; to just win a $65,000 sporty car right out of the blue. This win was especially miraculous since I didn’t enter any contests.

There is no Mercedes in my driveway. There is no Mercedes because the whole thing was a carefully constructed telephone scam designed to separate me from my money. The catch was that I needed to pay the shipping, handling, and taxes on my new ride. The nice man on the phone told me I should do that by going down to the local corner store, purchasing some prepaid visa cards, and then calling the contest coordinator and giving him those visa card numbers.

I knew it was a scam from the moment I picked up the phone, and for nearly two hours I went back and forth with the scam artist. I told him I’d have to get a ride to the store. Then I called him and told him I couldn’t get a ride, and I’d have to walk. Then I called him and told him that they didn’t have any prepaid visa cards at the corner store, so I’d have to walk to the next store. Then I called him and told him that I didn’t have enough money to by the cards because I left my wallet at home. This went on until finally the scammer realized that I was just sitting in my recliner and calling him every five minutes to keep him from having the time to call and scam someone else.

I never got my Mercedes.

I did get called some names that I had never heard before. As your city manager I’ve been called a lot of names; so the new ones were a refreshing change of pace.

I’m not the only person at city hall to get a scammer’s call. Your public safety director got a call from a person who stated that he works for the IRS and Chief Morse was told he needed to pay his back taxes over the phone. When he refused to make a pyment the wannabe IRS agent told him the local cops would come to his house and arrest him. I think Chief Morse told the fake IRS agent something along of the lines of “fat chance of that happening” and hung up.

Which is exactly what you should do. Hang up. According the Federal Trade Commission, thousands of people are victims of these telephone scams each year and they lose anything from a few dollars to their life savings to these telephone hacks. These people will call you and tell you you have won a great prize, or threaten you with legal action form the IRS, or encourage you to invest in some scheme or buy something from them and in the end you lose your money and they disappear.

Those individuals who are trying to scam you are becoming more and more skilled at separating innocent people from their money, and one of the latest scams involves people calling you at home and pretending to be someone who works for the city. Here’s how it works: Your phone rings and the person calling you tells you that they work for the City of Clinton and they are calling you because you didn’t pay your electric utility bill. If you don’t give them a credit card number over the phone, they will have your power cut off. When you give them your credit card number, they use it to buy things using your money.

The City of Clinton will never ever call you and ask for a credit card number or ask you to go out and buy prepaid cards and give us those numbers. Never. We will not do that. If you get a phone call from us asking you to give us your credit card number, bank account number, or social security number then it is a scam. Hang up.

Furthermore, you should know that city work trucks have logos on them or have license tags that have “MG”, which stands for “Municipal Government”, on them. City utility employees wear uniforms and all city employees – every single one of us – are issued an official City government identification card which lists our name, position, department, and has our picture on it. If a city employee comes to your house, and you don’t feel comfortable, ask for their supervisor’s telephone number and call their supervisor or call the Department of Public Safety to verify their employment or to come out and meet with you.

All of your one hundred and seven city employees want to provide you with quality services and they want you to feel safe and we do not want to see you scammed, especially by someone pretending to be one of us. This New Year resolve not to let yourself be had by a scam artist.

Friday, July 29, 2016

What's Up Down at City Hall?

·         Utility Advisory Committee: The Utility Advisory Committee met this week in an organizational meeting to review existing plans and set future direction for the group.

·         Burton Center Manufacturing Project: Economic Development, Community Development, and management personnel met with staff from the Burton Center in Greenwood and representatives from REI Industries regarding the potential to bring a manufacturing facility to the city in partnership with the Laurens County Disabilities and Special Needs Board. The facility would make pallets, and would employ approximately 30 people with several opportunities for those with developmental disabilities to be employed.

·         Industrial Fire: Clinton Department of Public Safety, as well as several county fire departments, responded to an industrial fire at a wood chip processing plant this week. Although teams were able to bring the fire under control very quickly, there was significant damage to the plant and an extensive mop up and follow up operation was required.
·         Town Rhythms: The Embers dazzled crowds at our Town Rhythms event this week.

·         City Council Meeting: City Council met this week and completed second reading on ordinances to annex and zone property on Waverly Drive for a new retail facility.

·         Clinton Senior Citizen Housing Authority: The Clinton Senior Citizen Housing Authority met this week and authorized the sale of Tallwood Homes contingent upon it remaining in the USDA / HUD program and contingent upon the approval of the USDA.

·         Upcoming Council Meetings: City Council has a meeting scheduled next week to take up the following actions:

August 1, 6 PM
P.S. Bailey City Council Chambers inside the M.S. Bailey Municipal Center at 211 North Broad Street
This is a tentative list of agenda items, and it could change prior to the meeting.
·         Proclamations regarding Back to School Month and Connecting Cops with Communities.
·         Recognition of an area Eagle Scout
·         Second Reading of an ordinance to dissolve the Museum Commission
·         Discussion and consideration of an Anti-Tether ordinance.
·         Consideration of a Reimbursement Resolution in advance of a Utility Bond Issuance
·         Consideration of a Resolution authorizing the city to proceed with the Main Street Program.
·         Discussion of LCWSC Sewer Rate Adjustment

Friday, July 8, 2016

What's up down at city hall...

·         Severe Thunderstorm: A severe thunderstorm struck the city on Thursday night causing significant power outages, numerous trees down, blocked roads, small electric line fires, and multiple car accidents. DPS and DPW&U crews responded to the storm and worked throughout the night to restore power and open roads. By 6 AM Friday, power had been restored to 95% of customers, and all roads had been opened. Remaining customers would be restored by late Friday. Removal of tree debris will take longer, but crews will work extra shifts to clean it up. For trees that were owned by the city, the city will remove all debris. For trees on private property that blocked public roads, the city will remove any debris that they had to cut; all other debris will be the responsibility of the property owner to remove.

·         Audit Committee Meeting: The City Council Audit Committee met this week to review the contract with the independent auditor that reviews the city’s finances annually. The audit firm of McKinley Cooper will begin their independent review of the city finances later in July and their final report should be ready by December.

·         Homes of Hope Projects: The City Manager met with Homes of Hope representatives this week regarding their efforts to construct ten new homes in Hampton Woods, four new homes on N. Broad and Elizabeth Street, and the redevelopment of the historic Young Building at 101 East Main in Downtown.

·         Streetscape Phase IV: Demolition of sidewalk along Broad Street and Main Street began this week as the new streetscape effort on Broad Street gets underway.

Friday, July 1, 2016

July 1 - Happy New (Fiscal) Year!

Here's what's up down at the Municipal Center this week...
I 26 Commerce Park Road Groundbreaking: The City of Clinton, in partnership with Pacolet Milliken, Laurens County, LCDC, CEDC, CNNGA, LEC, and others held a groundbreaking ceremony for the road that enters the I26 Commerce Park site this week. When the project is completed, over 700 acres will be available for future development in Clinton.

Expanding Partnerships: Representatives from the City of Laurens, the City of Clinton, and Laurens County met this week to discuss ways in which the entities could partner to improve the level of recreational services offered and the quality of recreational facilities in the county.

Landscaping Projects: The preconstruction and notice to proceed meetings were held this week for three small landscaping projects including landscaping along Springdale, and at both ends of West Corporate Center Drive. Work on beautifying these areas should begin later this summer.

Miller’s Fork Shoals Park: Several tours of the site of the proposed Millers Fork Shoals Park and Trail on West Corporate Center Drive were held this week. Representatives from Clinton Canopy, a grass roots group focused on improving parks in our community, as well as city staff, met with elected officials to show how the site could possibly be developed. The park and trail has been awarded a $100,000 grant from the South Carolina Recreational Trails Program.

City Council Meeting: City Council met this week and recognized Tim Stoddard for his service to the Design Review Board, declared the first Tuesday in March as National Night Out, conducted second reading on an ordinance to annex the right of way along East Corporate Center Drive, and conducted first reading of ordinances to annex and zone property on Waverly Drive and to dissolve the Museum Commission.

Valve Installation: Crews from the Department of Public Works, as well as personnel from the Cities of Newberry and Union, and the Laurens Commission of Public Works, worked to install two valves on large water mains on Elizabeth Street and Adair Street. These valves are new and will allow for portions of the system to be isolated in the event of a leak so that the least number of customers possible will be impacted if the city has to temporarily drain parts of the system for maintenance. The valves were put in using a new “hydrastop” machine which allows the valve to be installed on a pressurized water line. While the equipment was expensive, the cost of purchasing it has been shared by four water systems (union, Laurens, Newberry, and Clinton) reducing the cost of buying the machine. This innovative approach to equipment purchasing was the result of an effort led by Dale Satterfield, Public Works & Utilities Director.

The Mayor, Council, and City Staff wish everyone a safe and happy Fourth of July. The Municipal Center will be closed on Monday, July 4th, and all sanitation services will run one day late next week due to the holiday.