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1% Sales Tax Rejected by County Council

web posted April 2, 2014

EDGEFIELD The Edgefield County Council made short work of the proposed list of Capital Projects presented by the 1% sales tax committee Tuesday night with Chairman Dean Campbell, who introduced the idea, stating outright he could not support the list presented and would be voting against it at the meeting. Vice-chair Genia Blackwell agreed saying she saw more "wants than needs" and she would not lock taxpayers into an 7 or 8-year tax.

With five of the six commission members present at the meeting along with Edgefield Mayor Ken Durham, Chairman Campbell thanked everyone involved for their hard work, dutiful and thoughtful service with the best of intentions for the county in mind to produce the final list. Campbell said that, in his opinion, the project list would never pass the muster of the voters and for that reason he would not support the measure moving forward.

It quickly became obvious Mayor Durham and members of the committee were not pleased with the discussion by council as it became obvious the proposal was going to be stopped dead in its tracks. Mayor Durham hastily stood up and walked out of the meeting.

Vice-chair Blackwell said that she did not support the tax running for seven or eight years and taxpayers being locked into an imperfect list. "Seven years is a long time to be tied into one list," Blackwell said. "Our needs are going to change throughout those seven years." For those reason and more she stated she would not support passage.

Councilman Rodney Ashcraft stated that he said early on in the discussion of the proposed tax and the committee that there should be a short list of projects that would not last more than two to four years. As the committee met, the amounts grew as did the years to collect the tax if passed. He too stated he would not support the proposed list.

Chairman Campbell asked council for a motion on the ordinance and none was forthcoming, causing the matter to fail due to a lack of motion. At that point some other members of the committee walked out of the meeting.

Under old business the council approved the final reading securing a $300,000 note for the implementation of electronic medical records at the Edgefield County Hospital. Once the installation of the programming is in place Medicare will reimburse the hospital and those funds will pay off the note. It passed by a unanimous vote.

Next on the agenda was the re-appointment of two members of the Edgefield County Sewer and Water Authority Board members. Up for re-appointment were John Timmerman and Carroll Clark. Vice-chair Blackwell spoke up and said she had some concerns about the make-up of the board members in a general sense, not specific to Timmerman or Clark.

Blackwell said that in reviewing the list of members, which has not changed in many year, she noticed that there were areas of the county that were not represented on the board, specifically Bettis Academy and the Sweetwater communities. She pointed out that there were no female members and that she felt there should be more "diversity" including a member from the Bettis area.

She requested the vote to approve the re-appointments be held over until May for council members to take time to review the entire list of board members for future reference.

The discussion then turned toward the General Operating budget up for first reading. There were two minor amendments offered and approved saving the county a few thousand dollars. Vice-chair Blackwell made an amendment to remove $73,000 of HVAC repairs to various county building, including the jail from being taken out of reserves and moved under the umbrella of a recently passed $1.2 million bond to perform upgrades to county buildings.

After a short discussion all amendments and first reading on the budget were approved.

In other business council approved a lease for a local farmer to rent the field around the industrial park to grow hay and keep the property mowed, releasing the county from that responsibility. There is around 25 acres of filed and the lease will be placed at $15 per acre the first year and increasing to $25 an acre by year three. The lease was approved.

A resolution to correct a miscommunication between the county, bond attorneys and the bank on a recent bond issue was approved to change the due date of the bond from April to July.

Under the Administrator's report, Administrator Lynn Strom stated that all hurdles had been cleared for the county to assume ownership of the Manor House property and that after deeds are filed the bids to construct the new animal shelter would be getting underway. However, until a title search and other legal matters are completed, nothing could move forward.

Chairman Campbell asked if there were any further studies or engineering work that was needed and Strom answered there was not. Construction should take place once bids have been submitted and approved.

With no other business the meeting was adjourned.

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