Pelzer Town Council not comfortable with budget

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By David Meade
Pelzer Town Council failed to pass second reading on the 2017-18 budget Tuesday, with only Mayor Steve McGregor and Councilman Will Ragland voting in favor of it.
Councilmembers Roger Scott, Kim Wilson and Olene Bear were opposed to approving the budget, however none of them said why during the meeting.
There was only minimal comments on the budget, with Mayor McGregor stating that former Administrator Skip Watkins had helped prepare it and that it was basically the same budget as last year.


Councilman Scott asked if the budget could still be amended after it was approved. After being reassured by the mayor and town attorney, Scott was still not comfortable voting for the budget.
After the meeting Scott said he was opposed to passing the budget until he could look over the numbers in more detail.
The budget being voted on Tuesday was presented in a different format than the original budget voted on May 9, which was prepared with help of West Pelzer Clerk Paula Payton based on financial information provided to her by Pelzer Clerk Heather Holcombe.
Discrepancies in the first budget and questions about the budget during the May 25 work session, led to an exchange between councilmember Kim Wilson  and Holcombe, in which Holcombe said she was not prepared to answer some of the questions about the budget.
Holcombe also expressed frustration with being the only employee and being responsible for all of the town’s billing, accounting and day to day operations.
Since that meeting, there have been two lengthy executive sessions to discuss personnel and receive related legal advice.
The first was during a special called meeting held June 6. The second was Tuesday night.
Though it has not been stated publicly by the mayor or council, the town now has only one employee, that being the town clerk.
During public comments at the start of the meeting Tuesday,  The Journal asked town officials if there were any other general discussions about the clerk position, other than specific discussions allowed under SC Freedom of Information guidelines during the June 6 executive session. That closed door session lasted approximately two hours.
Town Attorney Jimmy King responded that other than specific personnel discussion and legal advice, there had not been other discussion.
After failing to pass the budget, council moved on to unanimously approve the purchase of a Flow and Pressure Kit for a fire hydrant at the cost of $508.91.
Council then went into executive session lasting approximately forty-five minutes to discuss personnel.
Upon returning to open session, the town attorney stated that council had received legal advice on personnel similar to that received during the executive session held last week.
King stated that no action was taken during the executive session and that there would be no action on personnel in open session.
During council comments at the close of the meeting, Mayor McGregor said Anderson County will be conducting the town’s election in November and that filing and election information will be made available soon.
McGregor also said a special called meeting will be scheduled for another vote on the budget.
Several residents commented and asked questions about the budget during a public hearing held prior to the regular council meting. Approximately 15 residents attended the meeting.