WINNSBORO — County Administrator Phil Hinely has been placed on six months probation and his salary will be reduced 5 percent during that time after Fairfield County Council voted unanimously to do so following a two-hour executive session Wednesday night.
David Brown was absent from the called meeting but did participate in executive session via teleconference. He didn’t vote when council returned to open session.
The reduction in Hinely’s salary, which is currently $130,621.40 annually, will begin in the pay period beginning June 10 and end Dec. 10. He will also have to issue a public apology to the residents of Fairfield County.
In addition, his computer use will be monitored including the use of his email account to ensure there is no further questionable activity.
Despite tremendous pressure from the public, Council Chairman David Ferguson said he appreciated council sticking to the motion and waiting for all the information before coming up with a resolution.
“This is not something you do lightly or do before you have all the facts,” Ferguson noted. “You have to resolve a problem by going about it in a diligent manor.”
While there was a call for council to take action when the allegations surfaced that Hinely had used his county computer to send or receive emails containing pornographic material, Ferguson said council has done its due diligence to correct the matter.
“This obstacle for council has been resolved and will not be repeated,” Ferguson stated. “Mr. Hinely made a mistake and after very serious deliberation this is council’s remedy.”
Ferguson, Vice Chairman Dwayne Perry and the county information technology director will review the probation at the end of the six months.
The State Law Enforcement Division briefly opened a case on Hinely after the allegations surfaced, but closed the case with no investigation due to lack of evidence.
County Deputy Administrator Davis Anderson said they do not know how SLED was tipped off.
“That is the mystery,” Anderson said. “We do not know how or who leaked that information to SLED.”
Council also voted to amend the employee handbook after Perry made the motion to correct the employee handbook to state all employees paid by the county are covered under the same policies.
The next regularly scheduled County Council meeting is June 10.