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Elgin council approves FOIA fee change

Posted: February 8, 2016 6:00 p.m.
Updated: February 9, 2016 1:00 a.m.

Elgin Town Council voted to change the fee the town charges for Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to $10 an hour at Feb. 2 meeting. 

Councilwoman Dana Sloan proposed changing the fees during council’s January meeting to comply with possible legislation change at the state level.

“It is currently compliant with what the state has in place,” Sloan reported of the town’s FOIA fee, “but as things are changing (the state) is working to reduce the fees.”

The new legislation would require municipalities not charge more than the prorated lowest hourly salary of the town employee completing the FOIA request. 

“I would suggest $10 an hour and we could look at it every five years or so. We can (increase) it if need be if we run into more costs or if salaries are going up. In the past three years, (the town) only had one FOIA request each year. So it’s not a huge thing. We just want it to be more open, fluent and transparent so people have access to what they need.” Sloan said.

Sloan also reported the FOIA fee schedule would be posted on the town’s website.  

Also Feb. 2, Kershaw County Voter Registration Director John Caughman spoke to council about amending Elgin’s election cycle which would require an ordinance. Currently, Elgin Town Council elections are held in February. The town is considering moving its elections to the general election in November.

 “Some of the things you would need to spell out in (the ordinance) are which current council members would have their terms extended and when the ordinance would be made effective. So if you are going to do it in 2017, it would be effective in the year 2017 … on the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November.” Caughman said.

He also said he would attempt to provide council with copies of other ordinances to consider.

Mayor Melissa Emmons asked if the town’s current election ordinance could be amended or if a new ordinance would have to be written. Caughman said he would have to verify whether the legislation would considering it as a new ordinance. He also said if the town continues to grow, another precinct will likely be added in upcoming years.

“Your population is growing right now,” Caughman said. “Sooner or later we are going to hit the magic number. If any precinct hits 1,500, we are going to have to start opening more precincts. It may be November of next year. We might look at opening two precincts or three.”

During the meeting, council voted to allow Elgin Police Chief Harold Brown to begin researching purchasing smoke alarms for town hall.

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