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Letter to the Editor

Johnston Mayor distances himself from financial woes of town finances

web posted June 23, 2009
Dear Editor,
It is my pleasure to keep you abreast of how the Town of Johnston has faired these past three years during my term as your Mayor. Yes! Most of the spending priorities during my administration as Mayor have been focused on priorities internal to basic services provided to citizens by the Town rather than the external.

However, having said that, I want to reassure you that in no way, shape or form have I given money away and then turned around and placed that expense and burden on to the back of the citizens of Johnston. Please take a few moments to look over the items mentioned below that have affected the Town of Johnston.

In the previous Mayor's administration, your tax dollars were given away to the sum of $40,000 to "recruit" an industry to the Town. Of course we all know that the industry closed its doors in less than one year, obviously a poor investment to say the least.
In fact, now the Town of Johnston is still dealing with the aftermath of that particular business as SCE&G mistakenly collected franchise fees from it (manufacturing is exempt from franchise fees) and then paid it to the Town of Johnston. Now we are required to pay back that overpayment to SCE&G in the amount of $5,291.50 this year and the same amount during the next two years.

This repayment requirement just makes our financial situation even more difficult when combined with the reduction in revenue the Town of Johnston has historically received from South Carolina State Government and Edgefield County.

Also, the Town of Johnston, like other cities in South Carolina, has had funding reduced from the State of South Carolina. During the current budget year, we have also been confronted with two budget reductions in revenue from the State of South Carolina as a result of declining state tax revenue from the poor economy.

The Town budget for FY 2009-2010 projects, plans and accounts for a known third reduction from this same source of state revenue. In fact, we are likely to face a yet to be announced FOURTH reduction in State Aid to Local Governments due to reduced state sales tax collections.

And now having been confronted with these stated (and additional unstated for brevity) facts, I must acknowledge and accept my fiduciary responsibility to properly address these issues and not pass them on to a future date and time. As your Mayor, it is my responsibility to properly maintain the fiscal integrity of our town. To do otherwise would be to disavow my obligation to you as citizens and taxpayers.

As we all know we remain confronted with the longest economic recession in the history of country since the Great Depression of the 1930's. The state of the national and local economy has resulted hi lower revenues to the town. It is important to remember that the Town of Johnston is not immune to the problems that each of you face; with your budget at home and at work. Ah" over the United States many county and city governments find themselves in financial crisis.

However, if you listen to my predecessor, these things are only happening in the Town of Johnston. It sounds much more like this individual has a personal dislike for the current occupant of the Mayor's position than someone who is stating "facts." Nonetheless, we will act responsibly and take appropriate measures to ensure that the fiscal house of the Town of Johnston is in order.

Sincerely yours,
Mayor Willie S. Campbell
Johnston SC

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