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Edgefield County’s shining stars lead us nowhere
posted May 12, 2008
COLUMN – I just have
to wonder about those
in control of our county and the decisions they make. Only in Edgefield
County could such an upside down local government exist. Our Tax
Assessor cannot pass the test to be a State Licensed Appraiser, yet she
is paid over $50,000 a year while we hire a Licensed Appraiser to be
our Building Director when he is not licensed to be one.
Building Director Mike Reed, who was once the Edgefield County Tax
Assessor, left for a job in Aiken County and former County
Administrator Wayne Adams hired LaKeisha Bryant to take his place.
Everyone knows LaKeisha, she’s the one that inflated your property
values two years ago (for many 100 to 300%) and was supported by our
current county council.
I wonder how she seems to take more days off than any county employee
while claiming comp time she can’t earn as a department head? I know it
has nothing to do with the record revenues her work created for the
Former Building Director Howard Gibson left Edgefield County for a new
job in Alabama last year and Planning and Zoning Director Guy Mueller,
who already has the qualifications, is overlooked for the position to
bring Mike Reed back to Edgefield County in a job he is not licensed to
perform. Reed, information suggest, still has not obtained the required
license for the position.
But Reed is required to assist Tax Assessor Lakeisha Bryant, who
is not properly licensed for her job, in order for her to perform the
job Reed is qualified to hold. Not to mention that the county
council approved an additional staff member last year, at taxpayer
expense, for Ms. Bryant because she could not keep up with the
workload. Before Mike Reed and the additional staffer were hired, the
county paid a licensed Appraiser almost $50,000 a year to “assist” Ms.
Bryant in doing her job.
Now that all makes perfect sense doesn’t it?
Who allows this insanity to continue year after year? Our current
County Council members.
Who enforces the convoluted mess our county government is in? The
County Council’s direct hire as County Administrator - John Pettigrew.
Mr. Pettigrew, who was not listed as a
qualified applicant for the position of Administrator by the Upper
Savannah Council on Governments who performed the screenings, was
bumped ahead of three highly qualified and experienced administrators
vying for the job.
Not only did our county leaders see fit to tap Pettigrew over qualified
applicants, they gave him an $11,000 raise within minutes of hiring him
at the advertised $64,000 salary.
So we have Pettigrew hired as the new county administrator and getting
more than a 17% increase in pay when he had the job for only two
minutes while the low level county employees, those who have worked
many years and are usually overqualified for their jobs, get a measly
1% pay increase each year. It is easy to see where our county leaders
District 2 County Councilman Everett Kitchens, who wanted to take away
Christmas Bonuses for county employees and replace them with a turkey,
made the motion in October of 2006 to give Pettigrew the instant
increase. The increase in pay for Pettigrew, if directed at county
employees, could have almost doubled their bonuses.
But do not blame just Councilman Kitchens for such a dim-witted idea;
it was approved by the County Council as a whole. They equally carry
the same amount of responsibility when it comes to how this county is
I have no idea why Edgefield County cannot grow economically. We have
such highly qualified people leading our county from the top down.
Multi-million dollar industries should be knocking our door down to be
a part of our wonderfully governed county.
They don’t, because what happens in Edgefield County does not go
unnoticed by those watching from the outside. These very successful
industry leaders can spot ineptness a mile away and will continue to
steer clear of doing business in the county. Our record of drawing jobs
to Edgefield County is pathetic.
Until we elect those well acquainted with multi-million dollar
industries that can deal with them as an equal, hire qualified
professional upper management employees, and set a higher standard for
Edgefield County instead of looking at what other failing counties are
doing and emulate their economic policies, we will continue to look
like the beggar on the street corner pleading for a pittance as they
pass us by.
Edgefield County is my home and I am optimistic about our future.
However, I am also a firm believer in that if you always do what you
always done you will get what you have always gotten - stagnation, high
unemployment, and higher taxes.
It is time we change things.
I have also learned that some county councilmen are telling people,
while campaigning; they lowered your taxes because your tax bill went
down this year. The County Council raised county taxes by increasing
the millage rate and the property assessments at the same time. Usually
when one goes up the other goes down, but not in Edgefield County.
The truth is they had absolutely nothing to do with total property tax
bills being lowered. If they claim they did, it is not true.
County School Operation taxes (on average about 45-60% of your property
taxes) went down when it was taken over by the state with a 1-cent
increase in the sales tax, something the county council has no control
over. State voters approved that two years ago in a referendum.
I'm your veteran county councilman and
I need your vote"
posted April 28, 2008
Great Duck Dinner
posted April 21, 2008
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JAM Straight Customs
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