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KCC delays traffic unit decision

Posted: February 10, 2011 4:29 p.m.
Updated: February 11, 2011 5:00 a.m.

At Sheriff Jim Matthews’ request, Kershaw County Council delayed third reading of an ordinance which would have appropriated funds from the county’s reserve fund balance to create a new Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) traffic unit made up four deputies. The funds would have also equipped those deputies, including new cruisers.

In a letter to interim county administrator Frank Broom, Matthews said he wanted to hold off on the new traffic unit until July 1, the beginning of the next fiscal year, saying it will take 60 to 90 days to get the vehicles from the manufacturer. He said it would take him a month to educate the public on a level of traffic enforcement they are not used to and give him time to recruit the necessary personnel.

Matthews indicated he’s not sure the program could pay for itself in such short span of time -- something he promised council in January.

“If at the end of the 2011-2012 fiscal year, this unit is not producing enough revenue to be revenue neutral, I will cut whatever positions necessary to make it so,” Matthews states in his letter.

Broom recommended to council that it “table the matter indefinitely to give us time to project the numbers over 12 months.”

Council agreed to not hold third reading Tuesday, but the previous two readings will remain in place, meaning council can place the item back on the agenda whenever it pleases and pass or amend the ordinance at that time.

In the meantime, council amended and gave final approval on third reading to an ordinance regarding victims advocate positions at the sheriff’s office. Councilman Stephen Smoak motioned for an amendment to grant Matthews only two additional victims advocates rather than the three he had requested.

Smoak said that since funds for the positions are coming from a pot of money that has been accumulating for several years, the county might have to eliminate the personnel in years to come if they don’t generate revenue. Should that happen, Smoak said, it’ll be an easier transition if council only adds two additional advocates.

Council also unanimously approved third reading to fund a victims advocate position within the Kershaw County Magistrate’s office.

With the votes, there will now be three victims advocates within the sheriff’s office and one in the magistrate’s office. Previously, there was only one victims advocate in the county, at the sheriff’s office.

Also during Tuesday’s meeting:

• Council agreed to a recommendation by Broom to begin having work sessions on the first and third Thursday of the month, the first of which will be Feb. 17 at 5:30 p.m.

Broom implemented work sessions for Camden City Council when he was the city’s administrator. He said this will be like a “dress rehearsal” for the official meetings, which come on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month.

The work sessions will be open to the public, but not for public comment. No official votes or minutes will be taken of the meetings, Broom said. Work sessions will be used as forums to hold debate on ongoing or new business, he said.

Several councilmen asked whether work sessions would eliminate the need for council’s two standing committees: finance and recreation. No action was taken to eliminate the committees Tuesday, but it appeared likely the committees could have lesser roles with the work sessions in place.

• Council gave final approval for the following hospitality tax fund allocations: $70,000 for the Fine Arts Center of Kershaw County; $45,000 for Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site; $45,000 for the Kershaw County Chamber of Commerce; and $100,000 for the S.C. Equine Promotion Foundation.

Initially, the equine foundation was to receive $70,000, but Councilman Sammie Tucker Jr. amended the motion to increase the allocation to $100,000.

The Kershaw County Humane Society, which is also up for $70,000 worth of hospitality tax funds, was asked by council to present its case for funds during the next council meeting, to be held Feb. 22.

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