AIKEN - The efforts made by a task force formed to help develop a new annexation policy for Aiken have paid off.
The Aiken City Council voted unanimously Monday to accept recommendations made by the Annexation Study Task Force.
Recommendations proposed by the group include assigning a qualified person to manage the city's annexation process and providing financial incentives to reduce the cost of annexation for property owners.
The group also recommended developing a process to publicize the positive features of annexation and developing city policies that are attractive to businesses.
"We'll try to put your suggestions into effect," Mayor Fred Cavanaugh said. "We appreciate the work of the whole committee."
The city's former policy, adopted in December 1994, required people purchasing property in "doughnut holes" - county property bordering the city - to sign an agreement to be annexed into Aiken in order to receive city services.
City officials decided in May to do away with the policy after people complained that it was forced annexation.
The city then appointed the 23-member task force, made up of city and county residents, to help develop a new policy.
In other business, the council voted unanimously against allowing Norfolk Southern Railroad to pay the city's portion of the Newberry Street Bridge replacement in exchange for the city accepting responsibility for the other bridges over the railroad.
The city was slated to pay $259,548 of the construction costs of the bridge. The railroad was slated to pay $115,284 of those costs.
Construction costs of the bridge are expected to total $890,000.
"It would be of benefit to the city that we don't enter into a pact of relieving the railroad from maintaining the bridges," said Councilman Michael Anaclerio.
Other bridges over the railroad are those on Union, Fairfield, York and Chesterfield streets.
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