By David Meade
Pelzer Town Council decided to proceed with a forensic audit of the town’s finances during their regular monthly meeting Tuesday and two members of council announced that they plan to run for mayor.
Councilman Roger Scott spoke first on the issue of a forensic audit. Scott said, “We need to have one done for the town, to be transparent, and everybody will know how the town stands.”
Other councilmembers agreed.
Councilmember Kim Wilson said the town should have an accountant or auditor look over expenses.
“We have had a lot of change,” she said. We have a new Pelzer. We are looking to hire a new town clerk. We should have a clean slate.”
“I can’t say there is any concern or mismanagement,” Wilson said. “We don’t know that.”
Wilson said that what has happened over the last two years has been under the current council’s term. “Anything that goes back further than that will be out of our control,” she said.
Wilson said audits are expensive but she believed it is best for the town and there needs to be clear processes.
Couniclman Will Ragland said he thought it is a great idea. “It is hard for folks to trust any form of government,” he said.
Ragland said over the last two years the council has been in the process of finding out what is going on and that an audit will help clarify things.
“Not only will we know, but everybody knows,” he said. “The sense of peace will be worth it in the end.”
Councilmember Olene Bear said an audit is one of the things she is asked about most since being on council. “I feel it needs to be done. I feel it is a little overdue. Now is a good time to get it done.”
Before taking the vote, Councilman Scott said, “We have no secrets. Whatever happens will happen.”
Scott then made the motion to proceed with a forensic audit and Mayor Steve McGregor seconded. The vote was unanimous.
Council also approved the adoption of a Joint Public Works Department Policy and Procedures Manual
During the meeting Mayor McGregor followed up on a question from a previous workshop about insurance on town buildings.
McGregor said the old hospital building has no insurance because it was deemed uninhabitable due to asbestos and lead paint. Through the years there have been discussions about renovating the building for use as a town hall, however estimates to renovate the building were in the range of $100,000 to $200,000, McGregor said.
He said the advice the town was given was to tear the building down and build a new one.
McGregor said another building located on Courtney Street that was renovated by Harry Marchant also has insurance on it.
Councilman Ragland said that the town should do what it can to preserve historic buildings and that there are future possibilites for them.
Ragland said he is glad the town allowed Marchant to renovate the building. “I’m glad he did it,” Ragland said. “It is our job to save the hospital. There is so little left. Let’s save what we’ve got.”
Ragland also said that the designation of a Pelzer Historic District will enable the town to apply for special funds.
Ragland also mentioned plans by the Pelzer Heritage Commission to renovate the old Pelzer Mills office building.
“That building was built in 1890. We have a real history,” Ragland said.
According to the mayor, also covered by insurance are Town Hall, the Community Building, Gym, garage and storage buildings, water tank and fencing, a generator and sewer pump.
During Council comments, Kim Wilson announced she will run for mayor and stated goals she has.
Roger Scott also announced he plans to run for mayor.
Books open Thursday for anyone interested in running for Pelzer Town Council or Mayor. Signup is at the West Pelzer Town Hall (See separate story)
Ragland said he has enjoyed working together with the other members as a council and that the council has worked with the people.
Ragland encouraged citizens to let the councilmembers know what is going on and share with them. “I have loved serving with these people,” Ragland said.”I look forward to seeing what will happen with Pelzer.”
Bear said, “No town is better than the people who are in it.” Bear said she waited 57 years to vote. “Great things are happening the next few years,” she said. “I am looking forward to being a part of it.”
It was also announced that there will be a meeting this Saturday at 9 a.m. at town hall for anyone interested in planning the Holiday Fair.