Wagener Mayor addresses string of unexpected expenses depleting funds, $30K outstanding employee benefit payment

WAGENER, S.C. (WJBF) – Wagener town leaders are restructuring the government after a string of financial hits.

A destructive storm, in September, set the town of Wagener back more than $400,000 dollars.

“That’s a lot of money for a small town,” Mayor Mike Miller told WJBF NewsChannel 6.

Repairing the Municipal Building depleted what was left of the general fund and added to a string of unexpected expenses.

“We had to replace a lot of the water lines and every time we repair it, it’s a $3,000 to $5,000 dollar repair.” Miller said.

Mayor Mike Miller says the financial hits have made it difficult to get the town back on track and in the rebuilding process many things fell through the cracks.

A $58,000 dollar bill from the Public Employee Benefit Authority went unpaid for several months. PEBA is an agency that provides insurance and retirement plans for public employees.

Miller says when he learned about the outstanding balance in December of 2017, the city immediately sent PEBA a $7,000 dollar check. In January of 2018, the city clerk sent a second check for $21,000 dollars.

“I told them I would try to have it done by January 31, [2018] depending on the funding that came in,” said Miller.

However, revenue from the town’s taxpayers is spotty and inconsistent.

Still, Miller says employee benefits were never affected.

They Mayor says once Wagener is reimbursed by the insurance company, for the Municipal Building repairs, it’ll be back on track financially. In the meantime, he is leading the efforts to reorganize the operations within town hall.

“Our payroll was $480,000 dollars a year. We have cut that to below $300,000 dollars,” Miller said. “Now we are holding that pattern until we float back to the top.”

Miller says he believes the town will be refunded for the Municipal Building this week. So he hopes to pay the remaining $30,000 dollar balance for PEBA before the end of the month.

Count on WJBF NewsChannel 6 to bring you the latest on this developing story. 

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