Lucas Vance Staff Writer
November 5, 2013
WINNSBORO — Fairfield County Council will soon be implementing a new reimbursement policy for council members.
During the Oct. 30 work session interim County Administrator Milton Pope and county staff delivered several suggestions when considering the new policy to reimburse council members of certain expenses.
The item was taken up several weeks ago — when council unanimously voted to end the previous practice — while looking at the policies and the way reimbursements were handled.
Some county staff recommendations for the new policy unclouded the three categories of communication (Internet and phone) up to $175 per month, transportation in personal vehicle up to 56.5 cents per mile and office supplies up to $75 per month.
Regarding transportation, council members must submit gas receipts and the mileage of the trip. All reimbursements must be validated by the submission of receipts.
One monthly check would be issued on either the 15th of the month or 10 days after the expense report has been submitted.
“We believe this is flexible enough to accommodate every councilperson’s expenses,” Pope noted.
Those recommendations will be up for discussion and a vote during the next council meeting on Nov. 11.
County council bylaws
During a previous meeting, county staff was asked to look at and review the existing bylaws to produce a more productive meeting.
“These suggestions are to point out certain existing provisions in the bylaws,make certain recommendations to enhance public dialogue and discussion and to list and gather council’s input,” Pope said.
Pope and county staff used Association of Counties information along with neighboring counties procedures and practices to make recommendations when revising Fairfield County’s bylaws. The rules and procedures are currently posted online at www.fairfieldsc.com.
Some recommendations of bylaws include:
• Several provisions from Newberry County stating that the chairperson shall preserve order and call members to order during the meeting.
• During the period of public comment, it shall be limited to three minutes without the transfer of time from one person to another.
• Every council member must vote, unless there is a conflict of interest. If there is a conflict it must be written into the public minutes.
• Adding an additional public comment section. The existing public comment section would be first and shall only be used to address items listed on the agenda. The second public comment section would be added for general information that is not listed on the immediate agenda.
• Moving the public presentations ahead of public comments on the agenda.
Councilman Dwayne Perry said he was pleased to hear the idea of moving public presentations higher in the agenda, referring to a presentation that recently honored the late Carnell Murphy and his family and public presentations for local athletic teams.
“I’m very happy to hear this recommendation because I can think of three different situations where it has been distasteful that we have taken away from public presentations. It is important to listen to the public, but I think we should get our business out of the way first. I would much rather take care of that business and it would give it more value and show more respect,” he said. “To make them wait over an hour to be recognized is disrespectful.”
Councilman David Brown said he would like to see the county go back to forming committees, and that he didn’t agree with it when council did away with committees.
“A properly run committee is the most efficient way to run a county government and I feel like we need to get back to committees,” he stated.
Councilwoman Carolyn Robinson echoed the same concern and said she was going to bring up creating committees again as well.
Perry has been apart of council during both times of no committees (present) and committees (past), but he believes the latter is preferred.
“I thought it was OK the way it was before and works better to have the information funnel up to council,” Perry stated.
If council so wishes to change any of the bylaws, they would discuss it and take a vote during the next meeting. During that prospective meeting, council and staff would strike through existing documents with the recommended changes, which would then go up for an official vote when appropriate.
In other business, council decided to move the 2013 Industry Appreciation date to recognize business leaders of the community. Initially had it scheduled earlier this year, but was delayed due to weather. Council unanimously decided to move the event to the spring of 2014.