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City council approves Bronson contract, 4-1

Posted: November 11, 2010 3:32 p.m.
Updated: November 12, 2010 5:00 a.m.

Kevin Bronson will be Camden’s city manager for another four years and get a nearly $8,000 raise, bringing his annual salary to $105,000.

Camden City Council voted 4-1 to pass a resolution authorizing the contract, with Councilman Ned Towell casting the single opposing vote. Towell attempted to make a motion to table the contract until council’s Nov. 23 meeting, but was told he could not because the motion to consider the contract had already been made and seconded.

“I’m having second thoughts about this,” Towell explained while trying to make the motion. “It’s not a reflection on Kevin, but more on the financial impact for the city. I just want to discuss it more … I’m apprehensive.”

Each of Towell’s fellow council members voted in favor of awarding the contract after Mayor Jeffrey Graham said council had to vote on the seconded motion to approve the contact.

“The city’s finances are sound,” said Councilman Walter Long, who attributed that, in part, to Bronson. “He’s dealt with all the major projects we’ve put on him since he’s been here. It’s the right thing for us to do. He’s what we need.”

As Graham did when introducing the matter, Councilwoman Alfred Mae Drakeford noted that council had deliberately “brought (Bronson) in low” when he was hired in March 2009.

“In time, he has proved himself to be the good manager we thought he’d be,” said Drakeford.

And Councilman Pat Partin said Bronson had done a “wonderful job” so far.

“He’s been responsive to me; he’s answered my questions,” Partin said and then referred to council’s executive session discussion on the matter at its Nov. 4 work session. “I commend council for sitting down and going over issues. We need to move on rather than (delay).”

According to a table of salaries attached to Bronson’s proposed contract, Bronson has 10 years of total experience in city management and has been on the job in Camden one and a half years. The table indicated that Camden is one of only four similar cities whose budgets are split between general, utility and hospitality tax funds. The other three are Beaufort, whose city manager earns $118,248, has 22 years of experience and has been that city’s manager for 20 years; Georgetown, $105,000, 13 years, all in Georgetown; and Newberry, $100,665, 12 years, with one and a half in that city.

“After all the work he’s done … he’s exceeded our expectations,” Graham said of Bronson.

In other business:

• Council received certification of the Nov. 2 election results by City Municipal Election Commission Chairman Bruce Little. Little confirmed that Phyllis Hampton Dye received 1,154 votes; Long, 1,565; and Willard Polk, 1,407. There were nine write-in votes. Little reported that 1,967 people voted in favor of a repeal of Sunday alcohol sale restrictions, while 1,064 voted against.

• Council unanimously passed first reading of an ordinance ratifying voters’ repeal of the Sunday alcohol sale “blue law” restrictions in the city of Camden. Mayor Graham considered the votes Little certified as “overwhelming” approval of the repeal.

“Hopefully, this will help businesses potentially make more money,” said Graham. “I’m excited voters gave businesses the opportunity to engage in Sunday sales.”

Graham said he hoped that with second reading and passage Nov. 23, and quick action by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), Camden merchants would be able to begin applying for Sunday alcohol sale licenses after Dec. 1.

• Jo Ellen Trueblood, who supervises both the Camden wastewater and drinking water treatment facilities, accepted DHEC’s Area-Wide Optimization Program (AWOP). Bronson said the AWOP award was being presented for participating in a program that requires higher than normal testing standards. He said Camden exceeded those standards for calendar year 2009, resulting in the award.

• Council unanimously passed first reading of an ordinance that will accept several streets in the Rutledge Place subdivision off Boykin Road and U.S. 521 as part of the city’s road maintenance grid.

• Council unanimously passed a “motion of intent” to award bids to Southeast Pipe Survey Inc. of Patterson, Ga., and Lee Electrical Construction Inc. of Aberdeen for sewer rehabilitation and underground electrical line placement in connection with the $500,000 Village Renaissance grant in the Lyttleton/York streets and Conway Circle area.

• Council unanimously approved both front and rear façade grants for a new financial planning firm at 1039 Broad St.

Council will next meet in work session at 2:30 p.m. Nov. 18; its next regular meeting will be at 8:30 a.m. Nov. 23. All meetings are held on the second floor of Camden City Hall, 1000 Lyttleton St., and are open to the public.

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