Gibson’s town council approved an application for a zoning variance on Oil Mill Road this week, allowing a scrapyard to open on the former Southern Gin and Fertilizer Co. property.
The application was submitted by Dan Campbell, a Laurinburg police patrolman who purchased the Gibson property earlier this year. Thursday’s council meeting was opened for public input. When none was offered, the council approved the application unanimously without further discussion.
“I want to thank you for choosing Gibson,” council member Randy Pearson told Campbell. “We need all the business we can get around here; economic times are tough and it’s a blessing to have somebody come along that wants to open up a place that closed down. I wish you the best of luck with it and hope you hire as many local people as you can.”
According to Campbell’s application, his business will operate from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturdays. The center will handle materials including vehicles, scrap metal, cardboard, plastic, and paper. Campbell has no plans to incorporate a shredder into his business.
In previous meetings, he said that he intends to invest around $250,000 in starting the center and to hire five employees with future expansion possible.
The council also approved an increase in garbage rates paid by Gibson residents. Effective Jan. 1, 2013 the town’s garbage rate will be $13.80 per month. Residents have paid the town $9.50 for the last several years.
“I’ve been the mayor for seven years and I know we haven’t had a raise,” said Mayor Ronnie Hudson. “You just can’t keep doing it, because right now gas is twice what it was when the president took office, and everything goes up.”
The town now contracts with All-Points Waste Service to collect garbage weekly at a cost of $10.50 per residence monthly. The cost residents pay to Gibson includes leaf and limb removal services provided by the town.
Those present at the meeting seemed amenable to the rate increase.
“What’s wrong with $15 a month for picking up the trash,” asked Gibson resident Belton Chavis. “That way you won’t lose money. If I had to haul my trash to the nearest trash dump over here in Laurel Hill, I’ve got to go there every week and carry trash, I’m going to spend $15.”
“I don’t think the town should be in the business of losing money,” added Ken Haney.
The council also approved an expenditure of $7,700 for repairs to Gibson’s backhoe. The cost is covered by $25,000 already budgeted for the purchase of a new backhoe. As the town was turned down for a $50,000 grant that would have enabled a new machine, the council elected to spend the budgeted funds on replacing the bucket and repairing the seat on its existing backhoe.
In light of recent vandalism at the Gibson lagoon, the council also approved $500 to install a gate and trespassing signage.
In other business, the council discussed the possibility of increasing nighttime law enforcement patrols. Gibson contracts with the Scotland County Sheriff’s Office to patrol Gibson during certain hours, as the municipality is responsible for its own law enforcement.
Council member Lula Cottingham argued that the town needs more police presence after midnight, but the council voted five to one not to alter the current enforcement schedule.
“We ought to leave it just the way it is, because from what I see there’s a mix of it and nobody knows when they’re going to show up on a schedule, which to me is very secure because people don’t know when they’re going to be here,” Pearson said.
Hudson also put before council the matter of hiring part-time help in the town office in place of Gibson’s current town clerk.
“We have been told by two lawyers and also an auditor that we need to cut our full-time clerk and hire someone part time to collect utilities and answer the phone,” Hudson said. “Also, we should have someone to come in once a week to do payroll and pay bills.”
Gibson currently pays a salary of $33,529.60 in addition to $7,400 for insurance to keep full-time clerk Myra Tyndall on staff.
Hiring a part time employee at 20 hours per week and another part time accounts payable employee would save the town about $30,000, according to Hudson. “That is something we need to consider, and Myra and I have talked about this also and she agrees that it can be done part time,” he said. “I’m not asking you all to decide tonight, but it’s something we need to talk about. $30,000 is a lot of money.”