AIKEN CITY, S.C. (WJBF) – In an exclusive sit down with the City Manager, John Klimm says Aiken’s sitting on a $200 million dollar liability.
The City of Aiken is currently debt free, but the City Manager says that’s because they’ve neglected the storm drains and pipes for years.
Klimm says funds to repairs the water and sewage system have been raised in the past, but the city government has used the money for everything besides fixing what’s underneath them.
If the city continues to ignore the problem it’s the taxpayers that are going to have to pick-up the hefty bill.
“The pipes under the ground, our roads and other infrastructure have been neglected and we need to come to grips with that because it’s a ticking time bomb financially.” Klimm told WJBF NewsChannel 6.
The City of Aiken has only recently started evaluating the decade old pipes and sewage system running through the historic town.
Even the most conservative estimate to fix it, exceeds more than $200 million dollars.
Klimm has suggested a way to raise revenue without raising taxes saying, “if there is to be a Capital Project Sales Tax 4, that it been solely committed to addressing our infrastructure.”
Infrastructure repairs have been included in the last few Capital Project Sales Tax, but in the past the city didn’t always put the money towards what it was raised for.
However, the new city council and mayor strive to be transparent.
This is why Klimm says if citizens pass another phase of the Capital Sales Tax, the council will pledge to put all the revenue towards rebuilding the infrastructure.
The next phase could raise nearly $30 million dollars, which will only make a small dent in the $200 million dollars worth of repairs that are needed, but Klimm says it’s a start.
“Even under the best of circumstances that’s not going to solely solve the problem,” Klimm said. “Which is why I’ve said repeatedly to the council, you’re okay. You’re not in a crisis situation yet.”
Voting for the next phase of the Capital Project Sales Tax will be in 2018, which if passed would be the soonest the city to could to work on fixing the infrastructure.
Count on WJBF NewsChannel 6 to bring you the latest on this developing story.