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Letter: Councilman responds to chairman’s comments about Dec. meeting

Posted: January 15, 2018 4:15 p.m.
Updated: January 16, 2018 1:00 a.m.

I’d like to address the post meeting comments made by the chairman regarding my remarks at our last county council meeting. His comments were printed in the Dec. 22 issue of the Chronicle-Independent. 

The privilege of serving on county council comes with the responsibility of representing the best interests of our citizens. This duty requires a thinking individual to voice his or her concerns while exercising civility. Civility means courteously, politely and respectfully expressing yourself. When I speak up on behalf of our citizens or have a dissenting opinion, I’m often called uncivil by some members of this county council. 

Folks, sometimes you can’t just sit back and go along to get along. Some call it uncivil, others call it rocking the boat. Regardless of the label, I’ll always stand up for the citizens of Kershaw County. My recent remarks have also been criticized by the Chairman as “unaccountable departure from fact in the public record”. Presenting the truth and doing it with conviction is never a departure from fact. I call it truth and it goes hand in hand with transparency.

Transparency is a hallmark of effective government. The light must shine on our decision making. That’s why I’ve purposely avoided the numerous unethical quorum discussions held upstairs just before county council meetings. Issues are discussed and decisions are made totally without the public ever knowing what occurred until 30 minutes later when council members walk into this chamber. That’s notgood government. These backroom discussions always effect the taxpayers’ pocketbooks. I’d like to commend Councilman Al Bozard and Councilman Ben Connell for not participating in those questionable proceedings.

More debt has been created by this county council in the past three years than I’ve ever seen in my twelve years of service. One particular instance is: In 2015, this county council passed a 17.2-million-dollar bond. In the name of economic development. However, councilmen Bozard and Connell were not sitting members at that time and had no part in that. This bond, over a 30-year period, could cost the taxpayers over $30 million. And with the bond payments being made from a combination of our reserves and millage, at this time we’re not sure council won’t have to increase the millage next year to make the payments. Folks, not only did I vote against this bond, but I offered council a sensible, reasonable alternative. My position was we should take $4 million dollars from our reserve money on hand and use that money over the next 17 months to test the waters by funding select projects identified in the bond documents. I called this pay-as-you-go. Our reserves were very healthy then, just as they are now. And, at the rate we bank money each year, we should have been able to recoup a large portion of that amount at no additional cost to the taxpayers. 

This county council is big on greenspace. The greenspace I’m concerned about is the taxpayers’ wallets. Millage was increased to give the employees a raise. The county was short $1.2 million dollars in the budget. I ask you, what business gives raises when they’ve lost money? The answer is government. My commitment to our employees is so strong, that during this bad year, I made an alternative proposal. I wanted to award each employee a one-time incentive payment out of our huge reserves and not increase millage. This measure failed on a 4-3 vote…. For the record, any time I’ve made a motion utilizing money on hand, I’ve had it vetted by the finance team and the county administrative staff. Their approval was confirmed each time before I made the motion. Regardless of the rhetoric of council members, the proposals were found to be sound.

Our school district has suffered the most from the contentiousness of council. I’m not proud of the way decisions were made regarding our School Resource Officers. I’m also very disappointed in the SRO/Growth Formula Ad hoc Committee’s refusal to consider public comment for no other reason that just because it was mine. As they have taken input from outside sources from the very beginning. This is based on a response letter sent out by the committee’s co-chair Sammie Tucker. My comments if allowed, would have provided for NO further increase in millage and a balanced budget for the SRO’s. However, after talking with certain committee members, I realized he did not speak for the entire group. Limiting public input is not the way to conduct the county’s business. It’s also not a way to entice families or industries to come to Kershaw County. 

Economic development is a definite need. It’s been stated that we have 500 new jobs in Kershaw County. This instance of economic development was already underway well before the past few years. However, some current elected officials have stated they’re for Economic Development and even claimed their involvement in this event ... Folks, you can put just as much stock in that statement as you can a Miss America contestant saying she’s for world peace.

Council can claim some victories. We’re building a new Central Carolina Technical Center. Those plans have been in the works for years. Through our Indigent Care Fund, we’re continuing to provide medical care for the underserved as we have for years. Our Emergency Medical Services are working well. I’ve supported all these issues. I disagreed with the funding methods, but not with providing the services.

My job is to represent the citizens of Kershaw County. I will speak up when I feel the county’s business is being conducted improperly. I will insist on transparency even when some council members call it rocking the boat. I will protect the taxpayers regardless of who on this county council thinks it’s uncivil. This is why the people put me in office. I do not work for the politicians or bureaucrats, I work for the people of Kershaw County and I will not forget it.


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