Anderson County Council authorizes loan for mill site cleanups

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Authorizes restrictions on three roads

By Stan Welch

During their meeting Tuesday, Anderson County Council approved an ordinance which will allow the elections commission to conduct the municipal elections of the town of Pelzer in odd numbered years. Council also authorized the County to obtain a loan from the Catawba Council of Governments to be used in cleanup efforts at the Toxaway and Pelzer mill sites.

First reading approval was given to a proposed ordinance sponsored by Councilwoman Wilson to restrict heavy trucks from Hopewell, Cheddar and Breazeale roads. A public hearing of the matter will be conducted at the next Council meeting.

There seemed to be little, if any, thawing Tuesday night of the frosty atmosphere that prevailed at the last Council meeting.

While the Council addressed several material issues throughout the meeting, it was during the discussion of the budget that the tension between District two Councilwoman Gracie Floyd and Council chairman Tommy Dunn resurfaced. At the last meeting, Floyd presented a lengthy condemnation of what she claimed was rude and disrespectful behavior towards her by Dunn at an earlier Council meeting.

It was clear Tuesday night that Dunn was not pleased with that presentation; nor had he forgotten it. As the first reading of the budget was proceeding, Floyd repeatedly asked if there would be a budget workshop including the full Council so that the members could ask questions while assembled as a group. She got no answer to her queries, until she finally asked the chairman specifically.

His response was curt. “Are you talking to me?” Dunn asked. She responded that she was, and he replied that if the majority of Council wanted a workshop he would comply with their wishes. She claimed that she was simply asking a question, and Dunn curtly replied again, saying, “And I’m just trying to answer it.”

She then asked Councilman Frances Crowder if there was going to be a workshop, to which Crowder responded that such a decision was up to the chairman to make. Dunn repeated that he would respect the wishes of the majority of the council, but that he did not plan to conduct such a workshop otherwise.

Floyd then made a motion to have such a workshop, which Councilman Allen seconded, and Councilwoman Cindy Wilson supported in a losing 4-3 vote.

Floyd, later in the discussion, reminded the Council that the County continues to spend money on legal expenses associated with the 2008 severance agreement with former administrator Joey Preston. Floyd chastised the Council for spending $3.4 million dollars on those associated expenses.

Floyd apparently has forgotten that she started the entire legal brouhaha in January of 2009 by introducing Candy Kern Fuller to the Council as her personal attorney. Fuller proceeded to file suit after suit against the County in the coming weeks, leading directly to the bulk of those expenditures.

Following a discussion that saw Crowder suggesting both a possible road fee or a local option sales tax as sources of revenue for roads and bridges, Council gave first reading approval to the budget by a vote of 6-1.

The Council then took up the matter of staggered terms for its members. Currently, all members serve two year terms, with the result that the entire Council faces reelection at the same time. Floyd again opposed the idea, and found an unusual ally in Councilwoman Wilson.

Wilson reminded the Council that the S.C. House of Representative as well as the U.S. House had two year terms. “If you look at all the mismanagement and corruption they get into in two years, you can imagine what they would do in four.”

Crowder pointed out that the proposal, if passed by Council, would appear on the general election ballot in November. “This still goes back to the people. We do not decide this. And I would point out that Anderson is one of only three counties that does not have staggered terms. The other forty three counties do” The ordinance was approved by a vote of 5-2.

In other business, the Council gave final approval to an ordinance creating The Anderson County Convention and Visitors Bureau, effectively withdrawing from the existing bureau which is overseen by Innovate Anderson. The County will continue to be a part of Innovate Anderson, but will appoint its own CVB board and hire a sales manager to attract business to the civic center.