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'New Horizons' the focus of upcoming Aiken City Council planning session

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Mayor Rick Osbon, ACC Meeting

Aiken Mayor Rick Osbon listens to a member of City Council at a recent meeting. City Council next meets Feb. 22. (Colin Demarest/Staff)

The Aiken City Council, alongside city staff, will on Monday conduct the first of three consequential planning sessions for fiscal years 2021 and 2022, providing direction for the upcoming budget.

The work session, billed as the beginning of “Aiken New Horizons,” begins at 5 p.m. It will be livestreamed on the city’s YouTube page.

Significant focus will be paid to certain issues this year, instead of general overviews of the city’s services and procedures, according to a memo from City Manager Stuart Bedenbaugh.

“As we review these topics and discuss related issues,” Bedenbaugh wrote, “we hope to receive your guidance to both the immediate- and long-term goals for the city.”

The inaugural session will kick off with a review of the city’s current budget, documents show, and a preliminary revenue estimate for the future. The continuing coronavirus pandemic has for months contorted outlays; Bedenbaugh in the same memo complimented staff for “proposing conservative revenues and shaping a current year budget to meet that.”

“Our fiscal health is solid,” he continued. “I recognize council has many priorities in light of the fiscal climate we are in.”

The hospitality and accommodations taxes are among the city revenues most affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

Department of Public Safety Chief Charles Barranco will provide City Council with his goals and needs, according to the Monday meeting agenda, and major engineering-and-utilities projects will be reviewed.

City Council’s regular meeting will follow at 7 p.m. That meeting, too, will be livestreamed on YouTube. 

Public comments can be made via email, publiccomment@cityofaikensc.gov, before and during the meetings Monday. City Council is meeting virtually for the foreseeable future because of public-health concerns.

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