Week of June 6,
manueuver averts dangerous situation
By Stan Welch
Quick thinking and perfect execution by two Williamston police officers ended a dangerous pursuit and traffic incident Sunday morning.
The South Carolina Highway Patrol dispatchers had issued a BOLO (be on the lookout) alert for a black Volvo station wagon reported to be headed towards Williamston from the Anderson area. Captain Kevin Evatt spotted the car, driving erratically on Anderson Drive near the Hardees restaurant. The car struck another vehicle and continued on, while Evatt followed with lights and siren, trying to get the driver to stop.
Along the way, Officer Tony Digirolamo, in a separate vehicle, joined the chase, which Chief David Baker described as scary, but not high speed. The driver wasnt going very fast, but they were all over the road, nearly hitting several vehicles head on, and running right through the five way traffic light at the south end of town.
Speeding or not, the car continued to cross the center line and the driver refused to stop. Approaching the downtown and several churches that were due to let out any time, Capt. Evatt decided to terminate the chase by using a pursuit intervention technique, known as a PIT maneuver.
The maneuver involves drawing alongside the suspects rear quarter and bumping the vehicle in such a way as to spin it out. Evatt performed flawlessly, according to Chief Baker, spinning the suspect completely around to face the direction they had come from. The maneuver took place right in front of the Journal offices and Mineral Spring Park. As the suspect spun around, Officer Digirolamo pulled to a stop facing the car, to block it in. Instead, the driver, Susan Elaine Hayes, WF, 44, of Anderson, rammed his cruiser, smashing the grill in.
Nevertheless, the block worked and Hayes was taken into custody. She is currently facing charges which include DUI, DUS fourth offense, possession of a stolen vehicle, refusal to stop for blue lights, and leaving the scene of an accident with property damage. The Volvo station wagon had been stolen in Anderson earlier that day, according to police records.
Chief Baker said she remained in the Anderson Hospital as of Monday, but added that to the best of his knowledge, she suffered no physical injuries in the crash. My officer is a little sore, but he and the captain made the right move at the right time, and handled a very dangerous situation in a textbook manner. It was a job well done.
Chief Baker added that the decision to use the PIT maneuver lies with his supervisors, which includes Capt. Evatt. That is a decision they are best able to make at the time. He certainly made the right call in this instance.
By Stan Welch
The town of Williamston has come a long way financially, according to the draft report of the independent auditor which reviewed its financial statements for the last year.
Mike Downey, representing the firm of Green, Finney, & Horton LLP, told the Town Council and the sizable audience that the Town has made great strides in addressing its financial problems.
Among those strides, according to the draft report, is the fact that the firm will be issuing an unqualified opinion, which means that the balances and amounts in the financial statements are materially correct. An unqualified opinion is the best rating available. Downey also reported that the towns fund balance for the general fund had grown from a deficit of ($281,000) at the end of calendar year 2005 to a positive balance of $892,000 exactly one year later, or an increase of $1,173,000. The unreserved fund balance as of Dec. 31, 2006 was $843,000 or almost half the fiscal operating expenses for budget year 2006.
Other accomplishments by the Town involved repayment of substantial debts. Among those debts were $350,000 in short terms indebtedness, as well as all outstanding 2005 payroll taxes, retirement contributions and vendor invoices during 2006. The Town also avoided incurring any additional debt during 2006.
Measures enacted to increase revenues, such as water rate increases, clearly worked, as the water/sewer fund showed a net income of $318,000 in 2006, as compared to $3000 in 2005. In addition, the Town received $100,000 in new income for accepting leachate from the Anderson Regional Landfill for treatment in the wastewater plant.
At the same time, deep personnel cuts helped reduce the Towns spending by $1.28 million in 2006.Those reductions included $600,000 in payroll and benefit costs, as well as a $245,000 reduction in operating costs. Downey also pointed out that the sale of Town property also provided a big revenue boost, which went to pay back taxes.
Downey congratulated the Mayor and Council for their hard work but cautioned that they must continue to monitor their expenditures.
In other business, the Council gave first reading approval to an ordinance which would prevent truck tractors on Gray Drive, unless the operator of the truck lived on that street. City attorney Richard Thompson reported that neither SCDOT nor Anderson County had jurisdiction on that road. Its pretty much up to the Council to do what they want to.
The ordinance will be given second reading following a public hearing to be held at the June 18 meeting.
An update on the status of a pending agreement between the Town and the County concerning capacity issues at the wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) led to some spirited discussion between Councilman Carthel Crout and Mayor Phillip Clardy. Crout said that the reason Anderson County was not cooperating is because the Town had dragged its feet for so long on the issue of capacity.
The Mayor responded that there were legal and contractual issues related to the capacity claims of the County.
The issue concerns 300,000 gallons per day which the County purchased years ago by investing in the Towns lagoon system at the time. The County continues to claim that capacity. Goldie & Associate representative Sonya Harrison reminded the Council that the agreement is essentially about who will build and maintain the needed lift stations.
An ordinance defining the manner in which an entity outside the town limits can seek inclusion in the towns wastewater treatment system would reinforce the ability of the County to restrict access to the WWTP. Any entity, such as a subdivision, seeking to discharge wastewater into the Towns treatment plant must have the approval of both the county and the town, for so long as Anderson continues to have capacity available. Other details are also covered by the ordinance, which received first reading approval Monday night.
The issue of payment of a claim by the Big Creek Water Company again led to a heated exchange between Councilman Crout and Mayor Clardy. Crout began by saying that the Town had owed a considerable amount of money to the utility for two years. We need to pay them. Were just sitting around and making a bad name for the Town, and bad credit.
Clardy responded by saying that his concern was the best interests of the citizens, to which Crout responded his concern was to stall the issue for as long as possible. Clardy reminded Crout that while I may not be the mayor you want, I am the mayor. Crout retorted that Clardy runs the town the way he runs his personal life. You do nothing. You walk around with a cell phone stuck to your ear. You need to get off your butt and do something.
Clardy called the remarks slanderous, and challenged Crout to make a motion to pay the $39,000 in question. Crout did so, and failed to receive a second for his motion.
Clardy amended the agenda to include a discussion of the matter during a scheduled executive session related to another water problem.
Councilman Otis Scott amended the agenda to allow for first reading approval of the towns proposed mobile home ordinance, which received unanimous 4-0 approval. Councilman Marion Middleton, Jr. was not present.
Following a lengthy executive session, the Council reconvened and immediately adjourned.
By Stan Welch
Progress towards a budget was grudgingly made by the Anderson county council, as second reading approval was given to a budget with a four million dollar hole in it.
That is the approximate amount of revenue that was carved from the budget when Council deleted a proposed twenty five dollar road fee from the budget at first reading.Several Council members seemed surprised the only reaction by the county administration to that deletion was to offer two alternatives to replace the lost revenue.
Did we not instruct the administrator and his staff to provide us with a budget reflecting the loss of that revenue? asked District Seven Councilwoman Cindy Wilson. Its amazing that we have all these new revenue streams proposed, and not once have we mentioned spending cuts.
District Three Councilman Larry Greer also questioned the lack of suggested spending cuts. We need to change the way that we think about the budget. We seem determined to make the spending match the revenue, instead of making the revenue match the spending. The first step in ths process is to see what we can cut. We keep trying to do quick fixes instead of solving the problem.
Greers reference to quick fixes resulted from two revenue options presented by county administrator Joey Preston and financial analyst Gina Humprheys. The alternatives consisted of using options set forth in the state legislation, known as Act 388, which sets caps on millage increases by local governments.
Under the formulas established by that act, which became law last year, Anderson County could not increase the millage by more than 4.74 per cent, or 3.4 mils, according to Humphreys. Under option one, that 3.4 mils would be added to the 72 mils, a figure not including 4.6 mils that is dedicated to debt service. The additional 3.4 mills would generate approximately $1.7 million. That is the same amount needed to either provide employee raises or meet matching fund requirements for several proposed bridge projects.
According to Humphreys, the impact of the 3.4 mil increase on the owner of an average $80,000 home, and two cars valued at the average of $7500, would be $14 a year.
The other alternative allows a one time exemption from the millage cap in order to address a deficit from the previous year. Last year, the Anderson County Sheriffs Office incurred a deficit of $2.3 million.
According to the exemption procedure, a one time levy could be implemented to address that deficit. the number presented Tuesday night was 4.5 to 5 mils. Under Act 388 provisions, that levy would appear on tax notices as a separate levy, with an explanation of what it was for.
According to Humprheys, that approach would have some advantages, the main one being that the sheriff could reimburse the Countys general fund for last years deficit. The Sheriff could take care of hsi financials problems and move on.
The impact of that option on the average owner of a home and two cars would be $18 a year. Both options can be employed in the same year, creating an impact of $32 for the one year on the average taxpayer.
During discussion of those alternatives, Councilwoman Wilson again raised the issue of spending cuts, presenting a laundry list of what she called adjustments. A partial listing of those possible cuts included placing the park police, animal control, and environmental enforcement under the Sheriffs control, return the public information office back to the adminsitrators department, and establish an in- house attorney, rather than retain and employ attorneys from several different firms.
Wilson said a rough estimate of the suggestions she had compiled could result in savings of approximately $4 million, or the amount of revenue the road fee would have generated.
Councilman Greer offered an amendment to reduce the increase in the solid waste fee from twenty dollars to fifteen dollars. I believe that we can do this and reduce the deficit in the solid waste department in three to four years, while still beginning to address the needed updates to our conveneience centers. he said. His amendment did from a lack of a second.
District Six Councilman Ron Wilson attempted to remove six new positions from the budget, but was stymied by bookkeeping details and administrative minutiae. For example, efforts to retain seven transportation department employees as part time, rather than move them to full time at a cost of $172,000, was thwarted by district Two Councilwoman Gracie Floyds insistence on making them full time, as well as Mr. Prestons reminders that $52 slated for part time mowing operations would have to be restored to that part of the budget.
Wilson finally surrendered, withdrawing his motion and saying that the Council was dysfunctional. We cant even agree on how to cut $200,000 from this budget.
After considerable discussion, the budget received second reading approval.
In other business, the Council, following an hour long executive session, voted to refuse a recent offer from a developer for the purchase of the old Tricounty Regional Landfill site that is jointly owned by Anderson, Pickens and Oconee Counties.
The site, approximately 513 acres, was originally slated for a regional landfill, a deal that fell through after Anderson County pulled out of the agreement. That withdrawal from the original agreement between the three Counties supposedly stripped Anderson County of any claim to the property or the proceeds of its sale.
The county went to court and established a one third claim.The recent efforts to sell the property resulted in three bids, ranging from $1.2 million to $2.8 million. The terms of the sale allowed any one of the three Counties to refuse the deal.
Councilwoman Wilson questioned the manner in which the sale was handled by ACOG, which provided bid packages and information. There was no adequate bid package, nor sufficient advertising . I believe we can do better than this price, and we owe it to the people to do so.
Chairman Bob Waldrep regretted that A bidder who went through a bid process in good faith is now going to have to rebid and now everyone knows what his bid was. Still, it is in the terms of the sale, and sometimes, I guess, life just isnt fair.
By Stan Welch
Records provided to The Journal concerning expenses incurred by two solid waste department officials while attending a solid waste convention in Las Vegas two years ago raise as many questions as they answer.
The records do prove, however, that the two employees, former director of the Environmental Services Division, Vic Carpenter, and Solid Waste director Greg Smith, reimbursed the County for part of their wives air fare after the Freedom of Information request for the documents was received.
Each wrote a check for one hundred sixteen dollars and thirty cents on May 14 of this year. Those checks, written to Anderson County, were apparently written to cover the balance of their wives flights to Las Vegas. According to a memo from Vic Carpenter to finance director Rita Davis, dated April 14, 2005 each man sent a check for two hundred twenty-five dollars to cover his wifes airline tickets.
A credit card invoice showing the purchase of four airline tickets indicates that each ticket cost $341.30. That amount equals the total of the two checks written by each of the employees. That same invoice is heavily redacted, presumably to protect the account numbers. One other charge that appears is a charge for $914.16 for the Hilton Plus plan for lodging at the Hilton Grand Vacations Club.
The total costs of the airfare and lodging package came to $2,279.36 after taxes. An additional credit card invoice indicates that the registration fee for each employee for the WasteExpo conference was $699. That figure would bring the total cost of the conference to more than $3600.
The total of all receipts and expense reports filed by Carpenter on May 13, 2005 for reimbursement by the County was $239.91. According to the information provided to The Journal, the total of the receipts provided by Carpenter to support his claim for reimbursement totaled $37 for cab fare, and $54.95 paid by Carpenter for a nights lodging at the Greenville Airport Inn, for a total of $91.95. Mr. Smiths reimbursable expenses, according to his claim form, came to $82.24. Those claims were supported by the receipts he provided.
The Journal first began seeking these records in April, following an allegation reported to the newspaper that Allied Waste, Inc. had flown Carpenter, Smith and their wives to Las Vegas for the week of the WasteExpo, which lasted from May 3-5, at company expense. That same allegation included charges that Allied Waste frequently entertains county employees, including solid waste department employee Dean Brown, at the Lowes Motor Speedway.
At a meeting with Carpenter to retrieve the documents requested, a reporter for The Journal asked Carpenter if he was aware of any such trips being provided to Brown or other employees. He said he knew nothing about that. The day after that meeting with Carpenter, which was insisted on by county administrator Joey Preston, was Carpenters last day on the job. He has begun work as the County Manager for Greenwood County.
Repeated efforts to contact Brown have been unsuccessful.
Smith, in a telephone interview, stated that Allied had paid nothing on his tip to Vegas, and added that he had never been entertained at the Charlotte Speedway by Allied.
A call to finance director Rita Davis to confirm the purpose of the two checks written earlier this year, as well as to clarify some other points, resulted in a call from deputy county administrator Michael Cunningham. He asked what information the reporter was seeking, and was informed that none of the documentation provided gave any solid evidence of who paid for the trip. None of the checks provided showed signs of cancellation, and only various cash register receipts bore time stamps on them. Mr. Cunningham was asked to inquire as to whether any definitive documentation was available.
He responded the next day, explaining that the flights and accommodations were in fact booked as a package.
The original amounts that they wrote the checks for their wives for were prices we got online. Later, when we were pulling this information for you, Rita Davis realized that the credit card had broken it out in detail, and that the flights were in fact more than the checks had been written for. Thats why they wrote the last checks. As for the other question about the checks, a check was written to the credit card company for that entire months transactions, since everything was put on the county credit card.
Joe Suleyman, general manager for Allied Waste Services of Greenville, who oversees the operations of the Anderson Regional Landfill, spoke to The Journal in an interview conducted several weeks ago, during the early stages of this inquiry.
He explained that managers within the company are directed to check any such blandishments with upper management. We have a cut off level of $25. If a gift or trip or ticket is worth more than that, we send it up the line for review. For example, something like Christmas cookies would obviously be within reason. But for something like a trip, we would have to demonstrate a business need. We are expected to conduct ourselves in a legal, ethical and moral manner.
He added that Major gifts or contributions would have to be approved, including political contributions, although personal donations are not subject to disclosure. But let me make it very clear that during my seven plus months on the job here, nothing has been given that was outside the parameters I have described to you.
Ted Neura is the Regional Landfill Project Development Manager, with an office in Charlotte. Efforts to reach him for comment were unsuccessful.
By Stan Welch
In a stunning revelation, a former sergeant with the Anderson County Animal Control Department, who was fired for failing to disclose a serious medical condition, has admitted to friends that she never has had cancer, nor does she have it now.
Mary Wilson, who for months maintained that she was suffering from terminal cancer, has conceded to several of her closest friends and caregivers that she lied about her condition. Wilson, 34, and a veteran of the Marine Corps, is being treated by Veterans Administration doctors for post traumatic stress disorder, as well as severe migraines. She is seeking disability based on those conditions.
Following up on a tip concerning Wilsons true condition, a reporter forThe Journal contacted some of those caregivers, who confirmed that Wilson had made the reported admissions. Wilson later admitted her deception to The Journal.
Nicole Walekuwicz, (pronounced walkawitz) who spent several months essentially living at Wilsons home to care for her, was clearly upset by the news. Im not angry with her, because I think she really needs some help dealing with this. But Im very disappointed and saddened. We basically adopted her into our family, because she has no one here in this area. My husband Paul and I made tremendous sacrifices in our lives to be friends to Mary, and to help her through what we fully expected to be the last days of her life. To learn this now is shocking to say the least.
Wilson was contacted for comment by The Journal. She explained that she had just been informed by the counselor she is currently seeing that her VA medical records show that she was diagnosed several weeks ago with a condition known as conversion disorder. When I went to be examined before my last compensation and pension hearing, a doctor made that diagnosis and entered it into my records. I didnt even know it. My counselor discovered it yesterday(June 4)and told me about it. It makes you exacerbates your perception of your medical condition. Last year, I was diagnosed with a serious thyroid disorder, and because of this conversion disorder, I saw it as something more.
She says that her thyroid problem was somehow allowed to go untreated. One bad thing about the VA is that the doctors you see change all the time. So Id see different doctors and theyd change my medications, or add to them, until I didnt know what was going on. Ive just recently been put on thyroid medications and I think they are working pretty well, although they may up the doses.
Wilson and Walekuwicz became acquainted during the course of their respective duties: Walukewicz as director of Palmetto Equine Awareness and Rescue League (PEARL), and Wilson as an animal control officer who had considerable experience with horses. Over the course of several months, they became friends, often riding together to the scene of an incident or rescue involving a horse or other large animal. Mary was great with the animals. She was always going the extra mile.
Ree Cooley, who became acquainted with Wilson at about the same time, also spent many evenings at Wilsons home, as she and Wilson and Walukewicz would sit and talk late into the night.I was over there several nights a week. We talked about a lot of things, including how to help deal with large animals in this county. Mary was rock solid on that, always thinking of the animals.
In August of last year, Wilson told Walukewicz and Cooley that she had been diagnosed with cancer. In fact, she claimed that her condition had been misdiagnosed in the past as ulcers by the VA, and she had eventually discovered her condition. According to Walukewiczs recount, Wilson said that an aggressive use of alternative methods had sent the cancer into remission, until it recently returned, and had been found throughout her body, including her brain and her lungs.
Wilsons records show that she served in the USMC as a food service specialist and that she had a solid military record during her four years in the Corps. She told The Journal that she was in Iraq in 2003 and later was stationed in Okinawa, where she says she was raped by her sergeant. She was a PFC at the time. It is that incident to which she attributes her post traumatic stress disorder.
She reportedly worked for the Georgia Ports Authority after leaving the service, until coming to Anderson County in June 2001. She worked for a while at a local equestrian center, then worked for Norfolk & Southern Railroad as a conductor before joining the county animal control department in 2005.
We were thrilled to have an animal control officer who was interested in large animal issues, said Walukewicz in a recent interview with The Journal. Nobody else seemed interested in the problem. Walukewicz has had an interest in horses since she was a young girl, and continues to pursue an animal control ordinance for the county that would more closely reflect state law, and how livestock is to be treated.
Cooley is also involved in the effort to rewrite Anderson Countys animal control ordinances; an effort that Wilson helped lead before becoming disenchanted with the efforts of the committee, led by Councilwoman Gracie Floyd, to establish a system for dealing with the abuse of such animals in Anderson County. Wilson eventually would denounce those efforts by Floyds committee, saying that they were totally unrelated to the real issues at hand.
For several months, Walukewicz frequently took Wilson to doctors appointments, to the VA in Anderson and Columbia, and to various other medical practitioners. She says Wilson never let her get close to the doctors, but the situation reached a point where Wilson granted Walukewicz power of attorney in order to help get Wilsons affairs in order.
It never crossed my mind that Mary wasnt dying from cancer, until the simple passage of time began to raise my suspicions. When Wilson told her of her condition in August of 2006, she said she had 10-12 weeks to live. According to Wilson, an October 2006 MRI showed a tumor on her brain stem. A follow up MRI in December showed that the tumor had reportedly begun to move into the area of the brain affecting personality. She told me that she might start acting weird in the coming days. Little did I know, said Walukewicz.
Earlier this spring, when Wilson had clearly passed the time she had indicated for her death, Walukewicz was helping her gather medical records for two pending compensation and pension (C&P) hearings as part of her claim for disability from the military. I came across two MRI reports that indicated there were no unusual masses in the brain. After seeing those reports, which really shook me up, I took her with me to St. Augustine, Fla. to visit a friend of mine who is both a M.D. and a brain cancer survivor.
My friend told me that there was no way that Mary had brain cancer, or probably any other kind. Well, you can imagine that Mary and I had quite a confrontation on the way back from Florida. She was very angry and demanded to know why she would fake cancer? I thought that was a very good question. It was certainly one that I was asking myself.
By the time the two arrived back in Anderson, Walukewiczs husband Paul had gone to Wilsons and removed all of his wifes clothes and belongings. I told Mary we were back to square one. If she really needed me, she could call, but I was backing away from the whole thing by now.
Walukewicz said that she had questioned how Wilson could undergo chemotherapy and other treatments without being discovered. Then I found out that her migraines could cause many of the symptoms I attributed to the brain tumor. She was also on a laundry list of medications for her PTSD and her migraines, and many of them had side effects that can mimic chemo and other aspects of cancer.
Cooley says she was suspicious even before that. I had a relative who tried a similar stunt, so I saw things a little differently than Nicole and some others did. Things bothered me, but she was going to doctor after doctor, and we all assumed since Nicole was taking her, that she was also meeting these doctors. Besides, its hard to believe anyone would fake something like this.
A couple of weeks ago, Wilson called, in the throes of a serious and legitimate asthma attack. Nicole called Cooley who responded as well. While they were all at the hospital, X-rays of Wilsons lungs were taken. When the doctor put them up on the lights in the examining room, he declared that her lungs were fine, except for some scarring from previous asthma attacks. Cooley wanted to be sure she had heard him right. I asked him three times to repeat that, and he finally looked at me like I was crazy, and said her lungs were fine.
That was the last straw for Walukewicz, who told Wilson that she needed to get psychiatric help and that until she did, she didnt want to hear from her.
Just days later, she got a late night call from Wilson who had just rolled her pickup truck and was still strapped in the overturned smoking vehicle while talking to Walukewicz.I called her family in Ohio that night and told them what had happened. I told then they needed to come and care for their daughter, because I just couldnt do it anymore.
Earlier this year, Wilson was fired by Anderson County. Wilson says the cause of that firing was wrong and still is despite her revelations about her medical conditions. I still have grounds for a strong lawsuit against the County. They fired me illegally.
Walukewicz and Cooley remain concerned for Wilsons health, although the focus of those concerns has changed from physical to mental health. But they share another concern as well. The issue here is and always has been that there needs to be an active and involved animal control presence to help protect this Countys thousands of horses and other large animals. I would hate to see Marys actions hurt the efforts of so many to find a real solution to this problem.
Cooley agrees, Mary has obviously stirred up some trouble by all of this, but it shouldnt affect the animals. That is a problem that continues, and it has to be dealt with.
Wilson says her greatest regrets are the damage she has done to her personal relationships, and to the cause she cares about, animal protection. That is the important issue, aside from the pain I caused to people who did nothing to deserve it. If staying away from the animal control issue is the right thing to do, I will do it. But the matter of large animals and bringing the Countys animal control department into line is still very important to me.
By Stan Welch
A comparison of the number and amounts of salaries in excess of fifty thousand dollars paid by Pickens and Oconee Counties, with those paid by Anderson County, reveals that Anderson County has more people at the fifty thousand dollar threshold or above than either of the other counties studied.
The fifty thousand dollar figure was chosen because it is the threshold set by the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act (SCFOIA) for determining whether a salary is a matter of public record.
All three counties employ the Council/administrator form of government, under South Carolinas Home Rule Act. In an effort to make the comparisons as accurate as possible, only the salaries for those jobs within the administrators domain were compared. When the salaries for Anderson County were first requested, the figures provided were described in that manner.
When the salaries above fifty thousand were requested from the other two counties, they included all such salaries, including law enforcement and court personnel, as well as coroners and EMS personnel as well. Those from non-administrative departments were removed from the figures, although to show what impact such salaries can have on a budget, the totals including those salaries, as well as the number of such salaries, are included in this article.
For example, Pickens County has a total of 53 employees making fifty thousand dollars or more annually. Based on that number, those fifty three employees consume $3,147,636 in payroll, for an average salary of $59,389.Reducing that number to administrative employees, the total number drops to 29 employees meeting the threshold. Those employees consume $1,926,907 dollars, for an average of $67,686.
Oconee County also included all employees who meet the threshold. The total number of such employees is forty three, receiving a total of $2,711,886, for an average salary of $63,067. By subtracting twenty jobs that are not strictly administrative in nature, the total payroll for those making fifty thousand or more comes to $1,517,017, for an average of $65,957.
In comparison, thirty five employees under the Anderson County administrators domain received a total of just over $2,367,000, for an average salary of $67,628.
By Stan Welch
A key element in the budget proposed by county administrator Joey Preston is a road fee of twenty five dollars to be charged on each vehicle registered in the county. According to Prestons figures, that fee will generate an additional $4.1 million in revenues.
Of that amount, $1,700,000 will go to the countys recently organized bridge crew, which has been tasked with repairing and replacing those bridges which are small enough to be handled in house. According to Prestons budget presentation to the Council earlier, an additional $700,000, despite being put in the general fund, will go to other unspecified road uses, while the remaining $1,700,000 will go to the general fund as well.
Preston and financial analyst Gina Humphreys have conceded that the last amount will go to providing the employee raises requested in the 2007-08 budget.
That admission promises to make an already controversial fee an even tougher sell. Councilman Larry Greer, for example, has already expressed his displeasure with the fee on two counts. Speaking at last weeks called meeting to consider the budget, Greer said,I am opposed to this fee on principle, and because it is inappropriately budgeted. I cannot support it.
Greer pointed out that $2,400,000 of the expected $4.1 million is going to the general fund. The transportation departments budget is only going up by $327,000, said Greer last week. That means $2.1 million is going somewhere else.
District Seven Councilwoman Cindy Wilson has asked on several occasions for assurances from Preston that any raises will be passed on to those employees making the lesser amounts, and not just to those higher on the countys organization chart.
Based on figures obtained byThe Journal under the Freedom of Information Act, those higher up on the charts do well. The FOIA request was for a list of all county employees making more than $50,000 a year. That is the limit set by state law in determining which salaries are public information.
County personnel director Phylis McAlister, in providing the information, stated that the figures below are only for those employees under the direct supervision of the county administrator.
Other offices, such as Treasurer, Coroner, the Solicitors office and the Courts, the Auditors office, and the Clerk of Court, to name some, are not included in the figures. Neither is the Sheriffs department.
The thirty five employees listed make a combined annual salary of approximately $2,367,000, or almost four mills as a mill is valued in Anderson County this year.
The South Carolina Department of Commerce joined the Greenville Area Development Corporation and Datran in announcing the companys intention to locate its U.S. facility in Piedmont. Datran will invest $5 million dollars and anticipates the creation of 70 new jobs at its U.S. operations in Greenville County.
Already well established and highly recognized in Canada, Datran is committed to continuing our strong relationship with our Southern customers, said Michel Veilleux, South Carolina Plant Manager, Datran.
Datrans new state of the art facility is fully equipped with high tech and robotic technology.
Datran provides surface finishing for OEMs and plastic parts manufacturers within the automotive, recreational vehicle, and sports equipment industries.
"Datran's decision to locate this new operation in the Piedmont area of Greenville County will help replace textile jobs lost over the past few years. This represents the continued transition in our area to the technologically-based economy of the twenty-first century where, through education and opportunity, people can achieve greater prosperity," said Butch Kirven, Chairman, Greenville County Council.
Marcel Lepage founded Datran in Pointe-au-Pre in the Lower St. Lawrence region in Quebec, Canada. Initially, the company refurbished telecommunications equipment. In its first year of operation, Datran won the provincial gold for entrepreneurship from Corporation professionnelle des comptables gnraux licencis du Qubec. Datran has since broadened its focus to recreational vehicles by expanding its automated production.
Today, the Canadian-based company provides surface finishing for OEMs and plastic parts for the automotive and sports equipment industries. Datran currently employs over 300 people at its three facilities in Pointe-au-Pre, Bromptonville, and Sherbrooke in Quebec,
In recognition of National Hunger Awareness month PERC, the Piedmont Emergency Relief Center, will host an open house on Saturday, June 8 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to show how volunteers and churches are combating food insecurity in Piedmont, Pelzer, Williamston and Western Greenville. The public is invited. PERC is located in the Piedmont Community Building. PERC will also celebrate its 2 year anniversary and recognize volunteers that have assisted over 200 families in the area. There will be cake and ice cream. Dr. Tom DeVenney, retired pastor, will make a few remarks. Special announcements are also on the agenda.
PERC is a faith-based organization that serves 29673, 29611, 29669 and 29697 zip codes. For more information on PERC, see www.piedmonterc.org.
June is National Hunger Awareness month. Recent statistics from the Hunger in America 2006 study reveal that South Carolina has the 2nd highest percentage of hungry people in America. South Carolina is 6th in the nation for food insecurity, (not knowing where the next meal is coming from).
During their regular monthly meeting May 29, the Anderson School District One Board of Trustees the board approved the Request for a Waiver for EIA Maintenance of Local Effort and heard an update on the Wren sidewalk project.
Upon the recommendation of Superintendent Dr. Wayne Fowler, the board unanimoulsy approved the following personnel:
Leave of Absence - Carole Simmons, Palmetto Elementary, Grade 5; Lisa Shevey, West Pelzer Elementary, Grade 1; Lara Tate, Concrete Primary School, Grade 2.
Transfers - Emily James, from Wren Elementary School, 4K Teacher to Concrete Primary, 4K Teacher; Kit Meredith, Concrete Primary School .5 FTE 4K Teacher to Concrete Primary School 1.0 FTE 5K Teacher; Mary Mitchell, Pelzer Elementary School .5 FTE and West Pelzer Elementary School .5 FTE Guidance Counselor to .5 FTE Guidance Counselor Pelzer Elementary and .5 FTE Title One Facilitator Pelzer Elementary; Kathy Perry, Wren High School and Wren Middle School, Strings, 1.0 FTE to .6 FTE; Kelly Rogers, Wren Elementary School Grade 1 to Concrete Primary School Grade 1; Krista Thompson, Hunt Meadows Elementary School Grade 4 to Powdersville Elementary School Grade 4; Dr. Eunice Williams, Pelzer Elementary School .5 FTE and Palmetto Elementary School .5 FTE Title One Instructional Coach to 1.0 FTE Palmetto Elementary School Title One Instructional Coach.
Resignations - Debbie Baker, District ESOL; Christy Barfield, Hunt Meadows Elementary School, Grade 1; Janet Cantrell, Hunt Meadows Elementary School, Grade 3; Adam Dymond, Palmetto Elementary School, Grade 4; Lonita Lee, Wren Elementary School, Grade 3; Daniel McGlohorn, Wren High School, Social Studies; Jamie Newsome, Palmetto High School, Spanish, School-To-Work; Donna Norman, Wren Middle School, Math; Jennifer Odom, Wren High School, Math; Gayle Thurn, Concrete Primary and Powdersville Elementary Schools, Instructional Coach; Luci Vaughn, Cedar Grove Elementary School, Grade 5 and Denise West, Wren High School, Math.
Recommendations - Ginger Bishop, Palmetto Middle School, Guidance Counselor; John Brockett, Wren High School, Math; Haley Fousek, Cedar Grove Elementary School, 5K Kindergarten; Jessica Freitag, Powdersville Elementary School, Grade 4; Ashley Gill, Wren Middle School, Grade 6 Math/Science; Shannon Goodacre, Wren Middle School, Grade 7 Social Studies; Karly Grice, Wren High School, English; Elizabeth Hall, Powdersville Elementary, Grade 3; Jill Hodge, West Pelzer Elementary School, Grade 5 Language Arts, Social Studies; Dexter Keels, Palmetto High School, Social Studies; Jodie Locke, Wren High School, Social Studies; Sherrie Ludwig, Wren High School, Math; Marion Middleton, Jr., Wren High School, Social Studies; Christy Papala, Powdersville Elementary, Grade 5; Jessica Payne, Wren High School, Math; Charles Poore, Palmetto High School, Spanish; Heather Raffini, District, Strings; Meredith Sargeant, Palmetto High School, Spanish; Matthew Tolbert, Wren High School, Art; Melissa Wilcox, Powdersiville Elementary School, Grade 3.
Administrative Recommendation - Brad Moore, Powdersville Elementary School, Assistant Principal.
A budget work session was held immediately following the board meeting. The proposed $51 million budget was presented to the County Board of Education in a work session on Monday, June 4. It must still be approved by the District One Board and the County Board.
Board members present: Fred Alexander, Wendy Tucker, Doug Atkins, David Merritt, Tom Merritt, Joe Pack, and Nancy Upton.
The next board meeting will be June 26 at 7 p.m.
In a worksession held Monday, the Anderson School District One officials presented a proposed $51 million budget to the Anderson County Board of Education.
The proposed budget includes hiring 20 additional teachers and other new expenses for the School District.
The proposal will increase property tax rates for District One operations by 6.5 mills for businesses, rental properties and properties that are not owner occupied.
Under the property tax reform law passed last year, owner occupied homes will not be taxed for school operations in fiscal year 2007-2008.
The additional teachers included in the proposed budget will lower the student-teacher ratio to 21.5-to-1 for elementary schools and 22.5-to-1 for middle and high schools in the District.
The District will add the new teachers for the 2007-2008 school year due to growth in the District, projected student attendance is 9,294 students for the upcoming school year.
According to Superintendent Dr. Wayne Fowler, the 2007-2008 budget is based on projected State Education Finance Act funding of $2476 per student, an increase of $109 per student.
Additional funding will amount to approximately $1.9 million more than last year and includes mandated teacher salary increases which will amount to approximately $1.4 million for 590 teachers in the District. The funding will also allow the district to add the additional teachers.
New expenses in the proposed budget include $1.9 million for a 3.31 percent pay raise for all employees; $99,000 for six additional support employees, an increase of $18,312 for student supplies and materials; and $9,200 for school library books.
The proposed budget still hast to be approved by The District One Board of Trustees and the Anderson County Board of Education before the new fiscal year begins July 1.
During their regular monthly meeting Monday, the Greenville County School District Board of Trustees approved third and final reading of $429.6 million General Fund Budget for fiscal year 2007-08.
The 2007-08 Budget will add teachers and other school staff to serve a projected 1,525 additional students, fund cost of living and salary step increases for teachers and other employees, pay increasing costs for health insurance and retirement, cover increasing costs for utilities, provide additional custodial services to maintain school buildings, and expand the school systems Twilight School (evening school) and Virtual High School.
The District expectes more than 68,000 students for the upcoming year.
Also, included for funding are Education Plan priorities, including middle school math and reading support, additional funds for bands, global positioning systems for school buses to provide location and status of bus arrival times, maintenance of additional school square footage, and district-wide technology system upgrades.
The 2007-08 General Fund Budget is based on a new State law that replaces local property taxes for owner-occupied homes with a State one-cent sales tax increase. In addition to required maintenance of effort taxes determined by the county auditor, the school board may qualify under its limited funding authority (cap of four mills) to increase local property taxes. For 2007-08, there is no local tax increase under the school boards funding authority.
Budgeted Expenditures for 2006-07 (Current Years Budget)are $ 391,583,066. Recommended Reductions of $250,000 resulted in revised budget of $391,333,066.
State Mandated Expenditures for 2007-08 include teacher salary increases, $3,000,000; increase in State Minimum Teacher Salary Schedule - of 3.31 pecent $6,200,000; Employer Fringe Benefits - Retirement Portion - 1.01 percent, $2,880,000; Employer Fringe Benefits - Health Portion - 9.7 percent $1,650,000; Charter Schools $2,740,000 for total State Mandated Expenditures of $16,470,000.
Local Required Expenditures for 2007-08 include teachers and other personnel due to student growth, $4,895,500; utility increases, $1,300,000; Custodial Services, $1,900,000 for a total of $8,095,500.
Education Plan Initiatives include: Twilight School, $200,000; Virtual High School, $228,000; Middle School Sports, $103,000; Alternative Program Student Advisor, $58,000 ; 9th Grade Academies at Carolina and Southside High Schools, $170,000; High School Alternative Program Enhancement, $55,000; Middle Schools - Math/Reading Support, $ 935,000; Career Centers and Teen Parent - Course Enhancement, $ 275,000; Music Engineering and Technical Theatre - Fine Arts Center, $82,500; Matching Funds - Band Uniforms/Music/Instruments, $430,000.
The budget includesd an increase in teacher salaries of 3.31 percent, budgeted at $826,000; salaryincrease for non-teaching personnel, $1,682,000; cost of living for non-teaching personnel - 3.31percent, $2,955,000; non-teaching personnel salary adjustment (specified positions),$175,000; bus driver safety incentive and summer compensation, $293,500; employee assistance Program, $100,000; Transportation - Global Positioning System, $400,000; Athletic Fields and Grounds Coordination, $80,000; Maintenance Department, $1,170,000; Computer Software Upgrades, $100,000.
Attendance clerks at 5 extra days, $66,000; enterprise resource planning - software replacement, $2,200,000; district-wide technology integration, $1,025,123.
A community relations coordination program to improve public understanding and support of public schools is budgeted at $133,000.
Total Education Plan Initiatives for 2007-08 amount to $13,742,123. Total Expenditures for 2007-08 are budgeted at $429,640,689.
Full details regarding each budget item are posted on our website at www.greenvile.k12.sc.us.
Fleet Maint. Div. Manager$51,945
Building Codes Division Manager$51,604
Emergency Comm Director$53,153
Econ Develop Director$53,673
Human Resources Director$55,238
Emergency Management Director$57,500
Community Services Director$61,336
Quarry Plant Manager$62,153
Director of Public Works/Engineer$88,557
Director of Admin. Services$90,489
Fleet Maint. Div. Manager$51,945
Building Codes Division Manager$51,604
Emergency Comm Director$53,153
Econ Develop Director$53,673
Human Resources Director$55,238
Emergency Management Director$57,500
Community Services Director$61,336
Quarry Plant Manager$62,153
Director of Public Works/Engineer$88,557
Director of Admin. Services$90,489
Assistant County Administrator$89,007
Building Maintenance Superintendent$55,631
Human Resources Director$58,236
Delinquent Tax Manager$53,428
Director of Community Development$62,000
Chief Building Official$57,604
of Economic Development$124,654
Research and Marketing Analyst
for Economic Development$65,054
Emergency Management Director$72,003
Roads & Bridges Director$63,852
Vehicle Maintenance Superintendent$55,526
Solid Waste Director$55,105
Public Service Director$70,357
Wastewater Operations Manager$53,537
Public Relations Coordinator$51,259
Collection Development Manager$51,643
Public Service Manager$51,152