View Mobile Site

Coroner urges KCSO traffic unit funding

Posted: March 10, 2011 2:56 p.m.
Updated: March 11, 2011 5:00 a.m.

Kershaw County Sheriff Jim Matthews now has an even stronger argument for the need of a four-man traffic unit.

Matthews said the county now sits at the No. 1 spot for alcohol-related traffic accidents in the state, according to the S.C. Office of Highway Safety.

While Matthews has asked Kershaw County Council to delay making a decision on his funding request for the unit until the start of the 2011 fiscal year that begins July 1, that didn’t stop several citizens during Tuesday night’s council meeting from giving their input to the seven councilmen.

Kershaw County Coroner Johnny Fellers urged council to grant Matthews’ request. Fellers stated that of the 70 traffic deaths in Kershaw County since 2007, 39 were due to alcohol.

The creation of a traffic unit is “dear to my heart,” Fellers said.

Citizen Charles Phillips asked council, “What monetary amount would you place on a family member?”

Jeff Mattox, a self-labeled member of the Kershaw County Patriots, a group similar to the national Tea Party, was the only person to speak against the request, saying it was matter of “liberty” and that he had financial concerns.

Mattox said the sheriff’s office would be taking away people’s liberty if it begins setting up DUI checkpoints.

Factoring in gas prices and vehicle maintenance, and the total price tag for the unit is uncertain, Mattox said.

Financial feasibility figures for the new unit were provided during council’s March 3 work session by interim County Administrator Frank Broom and Assistant County Administrator Allen Trapp. The two men detailed the number of tickets the KCSO would have to write in order for the unit to “pay for itself,” which is something Matthews has promised council.

The unit’s sergeant would make a base salary of approximately $35,000, while its three deputies would make a base pay of approximately $27,400. With benefits, the unit’s personnel would cost approximately $178,500. Top that off with nearly $166,600 for outfitted vehicles, plus more than $5,000 for uniforms and personal equipment, and the total cost comes in at approximately $350,100.

In order to meet this, the unit would need to write some variation of more than 11 tickets per day for a ticket speeding 11-16 mph over the speed limit, seven tickets for 16-25 mph over, and three tickets for more than 25 mph over the speed limit. However, the feasibility study, which used Lee County’s traffic unit as a base, did not factor in revenue from DUI tickets. Matthews has said the unit’s primary purpose would be DUI enforcement.

Matthews, though, hasn’t shifted his stance that he can make the unit pay for itself. Rather, during Tuesday’s meeting, he insisted he “should’ve asked for six” positions instead of four.

Council will take up its budget process in the next couple of months. Two readings have already passed regarding Matthews’ request, but it remains uncertain whether council will amend that ordinance, or if it will include funding for the traffic unit into the sheriff’s office budget for the next fiscal year.

In other business:

• An agreement was reached over 12 disputed acres of land along the Richland/Kershaw County border.

Waste Management recently acquired a tract of more than 100 acres to expand its Screaming Eagle Road municipal solid waste (MSW) landfill off U.S. 601. Twelve of those acres are in Kershaw County, which has a policy disallowing the creation of new MSW landfills within the county.

At Broom’s request, council agreed to an intergovernmental agreement, which recognizes that the 12 acres of land in Kershaw County, while in the control of Waste Management, will not be used as a landfill.

• Council honored retired educator and Kershaw County Board of School Trustees member Andy James with a resolution honoring his long-serving commitment and contribution to the community.


Commenting not available.
Commenting is not available.

Contents of this site are © Copyright 2018 Chronicle Independent All rights reserved. Privacy policy and Terms of service

Powered by
Morris Technology
Please wait ...