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Finance officials gather for SCATT conference

Posted: November 19, 2010 8:22 p.m.
Updated: November 22, 2010 5:00 a.m.
Trevor Baratko/C-I

Kershaw County Auditor Robin Watkins is the president of the S.C. Association of Auditors, Treasurers and Tax Collectors. Each year, the president’s home county hosts the organization’s annual meeting.

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Finance officials from counties across the state were in Kershaw County last week for the annual S.C. Association of Auditors, Treasurers and Tax Collectors (SCATT) Fall Conference, which rotates between South Carolina counties each year.

Per tradition, the conference is hosted by the association president, the position currently held by Kershaw County Auditor Robin Watkins. Most of the discussions and speeches were held at the Health Resource Center on Battleship Road in Camden.

Talking with Watkins Friday morning, she said the previous two days had been a success. “I’ve even had a few people in attendance say they were so impressed, they were thinking about moving to Camden,” Watkins said.

The purpose of the conference, Watkins said, is to stay up on current legislation and share ideas and situations with one another.

“Every once in awhile, the General Assembly can slip a piece of legislation in there not everyone is aware of,” Watkins said.

The three-day agenda included talks from Camden Mayor Jeffrey Graham and Richland County Sheriff  Leon Lott; a discussion on the local option sales tax; a dinner at the Robert Mills Courthouse; and discussions from representatives of the S.C. departments of Natural Resources and Motor Vehicles.

A legislative update was given Thursday afternoon, during which Tim Winslow with the S.C. Association of Counties (SCAC) talked about what he sees as major developments in the statehouse of the past year and going forward.

Winslow said he believes the Tax Realignment Commission (TRAC) -- a group of accountants and lawyers appointed by legislators to examine the state’s tax code -- hasn’t made much headway.

Winslow went as far to say the entire TRAC commission report may “be thrown in the trash.”

Speaking of the state’s budget, the lobbyist Winslow said it’s “terrible” and in “shambles.”

“Revenues continue to be down… The only thing sustaining it has been the $350 million in stimulus funds, which we all know run out this year,” Winslow said.  Sometimes cutting the local government fund is the General Assembly’s only option, he said.

To deal with the declining revenue, the state has looked at imposing fees, one of which can be found in the new court-filing fee, Winslow said.

The SCATT conference was primarily paid for through vendors that ranged from government officials to banks, which set up tables and booths at the conference, according to Watkins.

Thursday night included a dinner and dance at TenEleven Galleria in downtown Camden, which featured Camden band The Reflections.

Watkins reflected on Thursday’s festivities by saying everyone had a great time, and the only reason the celebration ended at 11 p.m. was because everyone knew they had to be “back at the conference early.”

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