The monthly Pickens County council meeting was held last night April 3, 2023 in the Council Auditorium in Pickens.
At the beginning of the meeting, Chairman Chris Bowers presented the Pinnacle Citizen Award to Tammy Anthony, and posthumously to the late Bobby Smith.
Tammy Anthony, the first recipient, was nominated by four different individuals for her creation of the “Rolling into Toys” Toy Drive that benefits Pickens County children.
She is the owner of Heidi’s Hot Dogs, a restaurant that feeds the homeless, and donates her time and food to first responders at nearby disaster events such as. the Pinnacle Mountain fire, and many others.
Bobby Smith, the second recipient, passed away suddenly in January. He was nominated by the Emergency Services Board for all he did in the community, especially for his service with Pickens Rescue 7.
Bobby served the community for 30 years and his legacy continues today with his son Jake, who was on hand with many other family members. His wife of 39 years, Nancy accepted the award. Bobby loved the community and missed many family meals to be where he was needed in the community.
The county council conveyed a deep appreciation to these two deserving people and their families.
The meeting was then opened up for the public forum portion:
Juliette Pena, Lori Osborn, Eunice Lehmacher, Bill Ranson all spoke on behalf of the library. Benefits discussed were: It’s a great place to get together for medium and small groups including nonprofits, there are programs for adults and children, it provides copiers and computers for low income families, and it’s an educational asset to the community.
These citizens spoke passionately about the needs and benefits of the library and in looking at the budget for the county, felt that the millage should be kept separate and not bundled with other departments to ensure proper funding.
One of the speakers was not named initially, but was recognized as Ms. Ryan at the conclusion of her talk. She felt that at the last County Council meeting in March, it was shocking and egregious that Alex Saitta was penalized for his right to free speech in representing his district. She felt it was unprofessional and had an unconstitutional mindset.
David Parsons, who lives in Sunset, was against the plans to construct a Class A Motor Coach resort at Sunset Marina at Gap Hill on Lake Keowee. He quoted Lollis and Bowers in the press stating that Pickens County is an awesome place to live, and we need to protect what we have been given. Mr. Parsons thinks the resort will be unsightly and affect the dark sky at night and the ability to see stars, along with sun glare from satellite dishes on the motor coaches.
Moving on, Ken Roper addressed the council on the below items:
- Samantha Greer was promoted and worked her way through college and is now getting her MBA. She provides a fresh perspective in the HR department of Pickens County.
- Mr. Roper identified the ingenuity of Pickens county staffers in finding a solution to not one company bidding on the Wayfinding Signage program. Existing paving contractors have agreed to do the job via a change order, and signs will be installed in 90 days.
- Mr. Roper outlined the progress in improving technology in the county council meeting rooms and camera/audio equipment to help with livestreaming and transparency to citizens. This was an outcome of federal grant money, not coming from the general fund.
- Mr. Roper showcased a brick from the Andrew Pickens Gravesite restoration. The gravesite is deteriorating, so the family and the Historical Society got together to help fund via the state and donations. The county couldn’t fund the restoration, but provided in kind services in the form of tech assistance, drainage help, gravel, etc.
As part of Mr. Roper’s Q&A:
- Councilman Wilson remarked on workers at the Recycling centers being abused by locals due to no signage.
- Councilman Costner noted that cut grass should not be put into the road, it is dangerous for motorcycles and bikes and while there may not be an ordinance, there is civil liability, and the courteous thing to do is blow it off the road.
- Litter crews, both county and state, have been hard at work. These are made up of citizens and inmates. Pickens County took over Adopt a Highway from the SCDOT, and is planning improvements.
After voting on a budget amendment for the current fiscal year, the agenda moved onto adoption of a budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2023 and ending June 30 2024. There were 3 things the County Council asked for in the discussion.
1 ) Proactively addressing local challenges. Millage flat, no increase to our citizens. Added code enforcement officer, doubling the office for code enforcement Issues. The landfills are stressed, we are adding a motor equipment operator which also adds capacity to the landfill. We are adding a vehicle mechanic for maintenance of rescue vehicles. This budget does not touch reserve capacity for the library, the library is not affected by this budget.
2) Nurture resilient communities- proposal to include 6 new dispatcher positions which will facilitate the takeover for the city of Liberty, and moving toward a co-located dispatch location one day. Fixing county roads also nurtures resilient communities. Budget looks to include “road tech” which is the black cord you see across roads, measuring speed, usage. Traffic study can only do so much. Need more data.
3) Attracting and supporting passionate people. The administrator did a compensation study to make sure across all departments to ensure we are paying our people what our competition is paying, and include a 3% cost of living increase. Pay alone is not the key, added training. People that want to grow in their jobs and skills set. County does not provide training for the county sheriff’s office. Training used to be funded through the supplies budget, now there is a dedicated training budget, etc.
Additionally, as part of the budget conversation, the Master in Equity was appointed by the governor, and funding needs to be approved. Adam Lambert was appointed by Governor McMaster as the Master in Equity for Pickens County.
The Master-in-Equity is a judge who has the power to decide certain cases without a jury. A Master-in-Equity typically handles cases involving real estate, such as foreclosures, partitions, and contracts. However, a Master- in-Equity may hear any matter referred to him or her by the Circuit Court.
Masters are appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the General Assembly for a term of 6 years. They may serve full or part-time and are compensated by the county governing body. There are currently 23 counties with a Master-In-Equity.
There were several other amendment considerations, discussions, and votes. Here are a couple readings that were included.
There was a second reading of ordinance no. 621 authorizing the execution and delivery of a fee in lieu of tax and incentive agreement by and between Pickens County and a company known to the county referred to as Project Sierra Foxtrot with respect to certain facilities in the county, and benefits of a multi county industrial or business park to be made available to the company and the reimbursement to the company of certain incurred costs and other matters related thereto.
There was a third reading of ordinance no. 622 adopting a six month moratorium on the acceptance of applications for residential land use, development, or subdivision concept plans and to provide for an extension of 90 days by further resolution of the council.
In the Executive Session they discussed the ATAX and Beautification committees.