Council approves some, tables other requests
A request to approve salary increases for countywide elected officials was sent to the Administrative Intergovernmental Affairs committee Monday, for further review.
This followed a somewhat heated discussion with regard to the faulty Lockton pay study, requests for longevity recognition for pay raises and concerns that County Administrator Jason Ward had not responded to specific requests. Ward was absent from the meeting because of illness.
Dorchester County Clerk of Court Cheryl Graham requested the council rethink longevity as the criterion for pay raises in an intense plea, during the “requests to address council” segment of the meeting. Suggesting that Ward had not responded to a council-requested meeting to review pay data, Graham adamantly spoke out for employees who were loyal and had given their careers to the county earning less than those recently hired.
A sharp reaction from council members ensued with comments ranging from “county workers shouldn’t expect raises simply for time on the job” and “the county should follow industry in how it pays,” references to the study and “almost corrupt” former practices.
Council members seemed to agree that the lack of any performance reviews for county employees was problematic and needed to be addressed.
When the issue resurfaced with the request for approval of salary increases for elected officials, council members were united and emphatic in taking the opportunity to commend Ward for a job well done. They appeared uncomfortable with the increase request and voted to send it back to committee.
After listening to Angie Crum, director/CEO, Ridgeville Community Resources Center, Inc., criticize the county for its lack of support in clearing debris from the center and asking for landscaping and a $10,000 grant, council members gently reprimanded her for her apparent attitude that the county had a noblesse oblige to fulfill her requests.
Council members reminded Crum that it had given her quite a lot already in the form of a $1 a year rental on the county-owned building in which she houses her center and $30,000 of taxpayer money to initially fix up the property.
Councilman George Bailey told Crum that he had driven to the property at 9:30 p.m., the first chance he had to do so, to look at the debris she wanted removed. Bailey and other council members explained to Crum that the town of Ridgeville was the entity responsible for debris removal and that the county could not just sweep in and start tending to municipal matters. It would have to be asked to do so by the town.
Crum brought two of the center’s clients and one of its instructors with her to support her requests.
Crum explained to the council she wanted the grant to advance existing projects.
Councilman Willie Davis’ tone was sharp when he told Crum, “If you don’t get everything you want, when you want it…you throw the baby out with the bathwater!”
Councilman David Chinnis told Crum, “I am extremely disappointed that you are angry with us. This council worked extremely hard last April to get that center in shape … we’ve done a lot for you.”
“You gave us nothing in money,” said Crum.
“Thirty thousand dollars in repairs and a building at $1 a year is not nothing,” responded Councilman William Hearn, Jr.
In other business, the council approved:
- One-time capital expenditures to be funded by delinquent tax fund balance
- Transfers from personnel savings to cover year-end operating
- Cancellation of three storm water capital improvement projects and reallocation of those monies toward future projects
- Road maintenance acceptance application for Hickory Ridge Subdivision
- Agreement with Town of Reevesville for lease of fire station