AMI | Business License | Building/Codes | Judicial | Police Department | Public Works | Utilities


Miscellaneous

Q: Who do I notify if a street light is out?

A: Call the Westminster Utility Office at (864) 647-3200 ext. 1 to report street light outages.


Q: Where do I find a city map? Is there an on-line map?

A: The Westminster Chamber of Commerce has maps available which is located in the Historic Depot located at 135 E. Main Street or you can stop by the Utility Office located in City Hall. The Chamber's number is (864) 647-5316.


Q: Where can I register to vote?

A: Oconee County Voter Registration & Election office is located at 415 S. Pine Street, Walhalla. Their number is (864) 638-4196.


Q: Where do I obtain a passport?

A: Passport applications can be obtained at the West Union and Clemson Post Offices.


Q: Where do I get a marriage license?

A: At the Oconee County Administration Offices located at 415 S. Pine Street, Walhalla.  Their number is (864) 638-4275.


Q: Where do I pay my property taxes, car taxes, etc.?

A: At the Oconee County Administration Offices located at 415 S. Pine Street, Walhalla. They even have a drive up window!


Advanced Meter Infrastructure (AMI)

Q: What is AMI?

A: The City is investing in upgrades to the utility system that is commonly called Advanced Meter Infrastructure (AMI). This system includes replacing water and electric meters, puts a device on the meters to remotely read and/or control the meter, and other equipment and software necessary to operate the system.


Q: Why is the City investing in AMI? 

A: This system will allow the City to offer much better service to all of our customers and lower the cost of power to our electric customers.

  • While not an immediate reduction, the average electric rate increase is expected to go from 2.3% to around 1% over the next six years. This will save customers around $750,000 during this period (including the cost of the system).
  • Customers with imperfect credit history will be able to prepay to avoid high deposit.
  • Customers will be able to choose alternate billing period.
  • Automatic outage detection will allow the City to respond quicker to outages.
  • Automatic water leak detection to help prevent customers from having to pay unexpected high bills.
  • Cost for all metered customers will be $7 a month for 5 years to pay for the initial cost and $2 a month thereafter for ongoing maintenance.

Q: Why has the City put a new fee on the bill instead of just paying for it?

A: City Council adopted a new Utility Rate Schedule which doesn’t pass on the 4% wholesale rate increase from our power supplier. The $7 monthly fee is less than a 4% increase and will not compound over time. Therefore to prevent a temporary expense from becoming a permanent rate increase, the City absorbed the increased cost of power and only added a minimal temporary fee which will be reduced once the system is paid for in five years.


Q: How will the system lower future power cost?

A: This will be accomplished by including customers in the cost reduction efforts. The AMI system will allow the City to also start a Demand Side Management (DSM) program at no cost to the customers.

Every customer that participates in the DSM program will not only save money but lower the cost of power to the City and all of its customers as well. How much the City and its customers pay for power is largely determined by how much the entire system is using at its highest point in a year. This is referred to as the “peak”. DSM works by limiting the use of heating and air conditioning during peak use periods to about twenty minutes per half-hour. These periods last four hours or less (usually 2:00 to 6:00 p.m.), and occur less than ten times a year. Most customers will only see a one to two degree temperature change during these periods.


Q: I am only a water customer why do I pay an AMI Fee?

A: Water customers will also be getting new meters and enjoy most of the benefits of the AMI systems including prepayment, alternate billing periods and leakage detection.


Business Licenses

Q: Do all business have to buy a business license? If so, what information is required?

A: Yes, if the business is being operated in the city limits. There is a standard form that has to be completed.


Q: If I'm working out of my home do I need a license?

A: Home occupations are subject to a business license fee. The location alone cannot be the basis for exemption.


Q: Why do rates double for non-residents?

A: Due to city ordinances, non- residents pay double for city services. This difference in classification has been upheld by the Supreme Court.


Q: Must a business that loses money pay for a business license?

A: Yes, the business license fees are based on total income from the business activity without deductions for expenses. The fact that expenses exceeded income in a particular year does not provide an exemption.


Building/Codes

Q: How does one become a City-licensed Contractor?

A: Those who are licensed by the State of South Carolina as a contractor are eligible to request City licensure as a contractor.


Q: As a homeowner, can I get the required permit(s) to work on my house without a contractor?

A: Yes, if you or your immediate family members are performing the work and if you will live in your home for at least two years after the work is completed.


Q: Who can I employ to perform construction work on my property?

A: Other than the homeowner or his immediate family, only City-licensed contractors are permitted to work on your property.


Q: How long does a contractor's license last?

A: A contractor's license is valid from the day of issue through June 30.


Q: Can general contractors perform work such as electrical, plumbing or mechanical?

A: No. There are different qualification requirements for each trade, and various agencies in the state of South Carolina offer the necessary exams.


Q: Do I need a permit if my project is under $500?

A: Generally, no. Permits are not required for minor, non-structural repairs.


Q: How do I schedule an Inspection?

A: Call the Building Department at (864) 718-1005.


Q: How will I know the results of my inspection?

A: The results of your inspection will be posted and signed on the permit at the job site.


Q: How do I obtain a Building Permit application?

A: You may obtain a building permit application from our office at 412 S. Pine Street or call (864) 718-1005 and one can be faxed to you or visit the Code Compliance page on this website.


Q: How much does a Building Permit cost?

A: The Building Department bases the cost of a building permit upon the value of construction and type of construction.


Judicial

WARNING: You are strongly encouraged to seek the advice of an attorney in any legal matter. If you move forward without an attorney, it may negatively affect your legal rights.  If you have questions about your legal rights or the law that affects your case, please talk with an attorney.

DISCLAIMER: The general information provided in these FAQs is not legal advice, cannot be cited as legal authority, and cannot replace the advice of an attorney licensed in South Carolina. The information in these FAQs is accurate as of the date of publication. If you decide to bring a lawsuit in a South Carolina court without an attorney, you are responsible for researching the law on your own. Please note that the presiding judge in each case decides what law applies in that case.

Q: I missed my court date, what do I do?

A: When you fail to appear for court, you are tried in your absence. If found guilty, a bench warrant will be issued for your arrest and you will receive notification that your driver's license will be suspended. The appropriate action would be to contact the Clerk of Court Office immediately to find out the amount of the fine(s) and pay it right away. You will generally not get another court date.


Q: I cannot attend court on my scheduled court date, can I reschedule?

A: Under certain circumstances, you may request a continuance. You must contact the Clerk of Court prior to your court date.


Q: Do I need an attorney?

A: The law allows you to represent yourself as an individual in court. However, the laws and rules that govern courts can be complicated. Only an attorney can advise you of your legal rights, provide legal advice, and act on your behalf.

If you choose to proceed without an attorney, court officials and court clerks cannot give you legal advice or advise you on how to prepare your legal documents. You will need to do your own research in order to prepare your case.


Q: Can you refer me to an attorney?

A: No, but we can provide the number of the South Carolina Bar Lawyer Referral Service at 1-800-868-2284 (toll free) and South Carolina Legal Services Telephone Intake Service (LATIS) at 1-888-346-5592 (toll free).


Q: Do you have forms I can fill out for my case?

A: The court-approved forms and packets are available online at: http://www.sccourts.org/forms      http://www.sccourts.org/selfHelp/index.cfm


Q: What are the filing fees?

A: The filing fee for a new case or action is $80.00 S/C, $65.00 C/D. A motion is a formal request, usually in writing, asking a judge to issue an order or ruling in a lawsuit.


Q: Can I get a Public Defender?

A: You can apply for a Public Defender with the Oconee County Clerk of Court at the Oconee County Court House.  There is a $40.00 filing fee.


Q: Can I make monthly payments on fines?

A: If you appear for court, and are found guilty you will be expected to pay your fines at that time. In certain instances, you may be given time to pay your fine.


Q: What form of payment do you accept?

A: We accept cash in our office, as well as cashier's checks or money orders, payable to the City of Westminster.


Q: Can I appeal the Judge's ruling?

A: You can appeal the Judge's ruling based on a legal matter only.  Notice of Appeal must be filed at the Oconee County Clerk of Court office, located at the Oconee County Court House in Walhalla.  Your appeal must be requested within 10 days after your court date.  You will need the following information for your appeal: citation or warrant number, your full name, address and phone number and a full explanation of your reason to appeal the Judge's decision.


Q: My license was suspended for failure to appear or for failure to pay fine. How do I get my license back?

A: If the ticket you have received was issued by the City of Westminster Police Department, you must pay the fine at Westminster Municipal Court. The court will then provide you a copy of DMV Form DL-53.


South Carolina Drivers:
You must present in person at a local DMV Office or mail the blue copy of Form DL-53 to:
Driver Records
Drawer 100178
Columbia, South Carolina 29202-3178
Telephone: 803-737-4000

If the compliance is not received in the Driver Records Office before the beginning date of the suspension, a $100.00 reinstatement fee will be required by the State in order for the suspension to be withdrawn.

Out of State Drivers:
You must present or mail the blue copy of Form DL-53 along with any applicable reinstatement fees to the state in which you are a licensed driver. Any questions you may have concerning reinstatement fees or driver's license suspension must be directed to your home state.


Q: Do I have to appear in court?

A: If you receive a Subpoena or a “Rule To Show Cause” to appear in court, then you must appear in Court. In all cases it is in your best interest to go to your trial or hearing. If you do not appear, you may lose your case because you are not there. You cannot appeal if you lose your case because you did not show up.


Q: What do I say in court?

A: When you appear in Court, listen carefully to the judge and ask the judge’s permission before you speak. You must stand when speaking to the judge, unless you are physically unable.  When you speak to the judge, start by saying "Your Honor."    Always speak directly to the judge, and speak loudly and clearly. Remember that only one person can speak at a time. Avoid arguing or interrupting another person. Control your emotions as much as possible.

  • Don’t talk while other people are talking in court.
  • Don’t shake your head or sigh loudly when you don’t like what somebody else says. You will have your chance to talk.
  • When it’s your turn to talk, stay calm.
  • Talk loudly enough for everyone to hear you. Remember that the court reporter is making a written record of what you say.
  • Don’t yell or curse.

Q: What do I wear to court?

A: You do not need to buy new clothing for court, but dress respectfully.

  • Don’t wear shorts, short skirts, flip flops, low-cuts tops, sleeveless shirts, or shirts with inappropriate words or images on them.
  • Dress neatly.

Q: Are there any additional things I need to know before I appear in court?

  • Don’t wear a hat or head covering in the courtroom, unless for religious or medical reasons.
  • Don’t drink, eat, smoke, or chew gum while in the courtroom.
  • Don’t bring drugs or alcohol into the courthouse. Don’t use drugs or alcohol before you come to court.
  • Don’t bring guns, knives, or any other kind of weapon to court with you. Please note that there are metal detectors at the courthouses and deputies will search your bags when you go through the security check-point.
  • Don’t bring your cell phone or electronic devices such as blackberries, iPods and other MP3 players to court. Some counties prohibit them in Court and will hold them in a room while you are in court. If you are allowed to bring your cell phone to the court, turn it off before you walk into the courtroom. If your phone rings or disturbs the proceedings, court officials may take your device and you may have to pay a fine.
  • Arrive on time.
  • Arrange for childcare prior to coming to court.
  • Encourage all witnesses to arrive early for the hearing or trial.
  • Bring all evidence you intend to present.
  • Stand up when the judge enters or leaves the room and remain standing until the judge leaves or says you can sit down.
  • Because each county is different, make sure you follow any additional rules specific to that court.

Q: May I speak with the judge in my case?

A: Judges cannot talk with you about your case unless all sides are present. Therefore, the only time to speak to a judge is during your hearing or trial.


Q: What is a docket?

A: The docket is the list of cases to be tried in a certain timeframe.


Q: When will my case be heard?

A: It is difficult to determine when your case will be scheduled for trial. Many factors determine when a case will go to trial: the number of parties involved; the complexity of the issue(s); the time it takes for each side to investigate the claims; and the number of cases already on the court’s docket.


Q: How do I get copies of files?

A: The Clerk of Court's office has your case file. You will need to contact the Clerk of Court's office in the county where the trial was held for copies. They will make copies of the file for you for a fee.

 


Police Department

Q: Where do I pay a parking ticket?

A: At Westminster City Hall at 100 E. Windsor St..


Q: Do Victims pay for incident reports?

A: No but they do pay for accident reports.


Q: Is there a charge for accident reports?

A: Yes accident reports are $10.00 per report.


Q: Where do I pick up incident reports?

A: Reports are picked up at the Police Department at 106 E. Windsor St.


Q: Where do I as a victim request to sign a warrant?

A: Go to the Police Department at 106 E. Windsor St..


Q: Where do I as a victim sign a restraining order?

A: Restraining orders are signed through magistrate 106 E. Windsor St.


Q: Is there any paper work I will need in order to sign a restraining order?

A: Yes, you will need a copy of your incident report.


Q: Where are speeding and other tickets paid?

A: Traffic tickets and other city issued citations are paid at the Clerk of Court in City Hall.


Q: How can I have an arrest expunged from my arrest record?

A: Contact the Solicitors office at 1-864-638-4294.


Public Works

Q: Who do I call to report a pothole?

A: The streets in the City are owned and maintained by the SCDOT. For repair of potholes and the like call the SCDOT Maintenance Office at (864) 647-0879.


Q: When is residential garbage picked up?

A: Residential garbage is scheduled to be picked up once a week.


Utilities

Q: When is my utility bill due?

A: Your utility bill is due by the 15th of each by 5:00pm.  After 5:00 pm a 10% penalty is applied and beginning the morning of the 26th of each month interruption of service begins.  If the 26th falls on a weekend or a City of Westminster observed holiday, then interruption of service will begin on the next business day.


Q: How could I use so much water?

A: Most people would be surprise by the amount of water they use in a day. The average person uses 150 gallons a day. While much of that is put to good use for such necessities as bathing, cooking, and cleaning, almost all of us could cut down on our water use by following a few easy tips:

An other wise undetectable leak in your toilet can waste hundreds of gallons of water per day. Test for leakage by adding a few drops of food coloring to the tank. If color appears in the bowl within 30 minutes, call a plumber.

Turn off the water when brushing your teeth or shaving. This will save you 3 to 6 gallons of water each minute the faucet is turned off.

Non-conserving shower heads put out between 6 and 10 gallons a minute. So try to keep your shower time to a minimum. If you use a shower for rejuvenation, consider a long soak in the bathtub instead.

If you're remodeling, insulate pipes connecting the hot water heater to fixtures and appliances. Water will heat up and reach a constant temperature more quickly.

Q: Do you accept partial payments?

A: You can make partial payments up to the time the Utility Department begins interruption of service which begins 9:00 am on the 26th of each month.


Q: Do you accept credit card payments?

A: Yes, we accept Visa and MasterCard. We also do automatic draft from your checking accounts.


Q: How long will it take my utility services to be restored once it has been disconnect?

A: All reconnections will be done between 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.


Q: How much of a notice will you need to turn utility services on or off?

A: We will be able to do this the same day as long as you come in before 4:00 pm.