Edgefield County Council Chairman’s Update

February 1, 2013 – 

Animal Shelter Update Coming

At our upcoming February 5 County Council meeting, Administrator Lynn Strom will be giving the Council an update on the proposed Animal Shelter. As you may remember, a year or so ago the County Council agreed that we could save money and provide a better service to residents with our own Animal Shelter.

Since then, the Administrator has been diligently working through many details, from where we could locate the new facility to how much it may cost to put in all the facility needs, such as parking, security system, etc. It’s a complex project because we want to ensure we develop an Animal Shelter that meets today’s standards and gives the animals the right protective environment.

That means County Council will sort through many details in the upcoming months to ensure we are cost-effectively meeting the needs of our citizens in this area.

Fee-in-Lieu Changes to Aid Future Economic Development

At the next meeting, the County Council will take up first reading on an ordinance that will aid the County in future economic development.

Currently, the county offers Fee in Lieu of Taxes (FILOT) to industries thta qualify, based on their investment. The FILOT process allows the County to receive funding from the industry that the County would otherwise lose, and holds the industry accountable for the investment in which they agree to meet.

The new ordinance we will take up this month will allow the County to allocate 10% of the County portion (not the school portion) of any fee agreement to perform economic development work we need to do, such as infrastructure improvements on industrial sites, recertifying our industrial park, etc. This ordinance will only impact future FILOTs, not ones we have in place.

This is a great way to re-invest in our County to better prepare us for new capital investment and job-creating opportunities.

Land Development Codes Up for Final Reading

County Council is scheduled to give final reading to a Land Development Ordinance at our February meeting. We have discussed it for several months, and held a public hearing on it.

The Economic Development Committee, an advisory group for the County Council, as well as the Upper Savannah Council of Governments, reviewed the ordinance and gave us some specific changes, which we passed at second reading in January.

We may make additional changes to it at the February meeting.

If you have questions or input, I ask that you contact County Administrator Lynn Strom or your Council member.

Additional Land Development Changes to be Discussed

Another Land Development ordinance will be discussed by Council at the February meeting. (It’s coming up for the first of three readings.) This ordinance places countywide conditional development standards on certain types of development in the County. This ordinance does not prohibit the use of property; it places specific requirements for items such as bed and breakfast inns, manufactured housing, firing ranges, etc. These conditional uses were recommended by the Edgefield County Planning Commission.

Again, if you have an interest in this topic, I ask that you contact County Administrator Lynn Strom or your Council member. You can read the ordinance on our website.

Council’s Discussion on Parliamentary Procedure, Decorum, etc.

At our January meeting, we invited as a guest speaker Robert Croom, Deputy General Counsel for the S.C. Association of Counties. As an independent legal representative, we asked him to give us his view of how our County Council process works in terms of decorum, parliamentary procedure and ethics, among other items.

His 75-minute presentation answered a lot of questions we and the public have had related to how we can best do the people’s business in a less confrontational manner. One of the changes he recommended, which we will start at the February meeting, is to create a “Consent Agenda.”

The Consent Agenda allows us to dispense with items that are usually considered routine or non-controversial. The County Council will still be transparent by explaining on the agenda what the items are. If we put an item in that portion of the agenda that a Council member wants to discuss, then all they have to do is ask to have it moved to the discussion agenda, and we’ll take it up like any other ordinance, resolution or issue.

Council members can also add items to the agenda, and have other mechanism available to them to speak on issues not on the agenda. However, I believe the Consent Agenda – used by many elected bodies – will aid in our ability to get your work done efficiently.

Local Elected and Appointed Leaders Get Together

Each year, elected bodies and appointed Boards participate in the Edgefield County Intergovernmental Meeting. This is our once-a-year gathering as a group to tell what each group is doing. In addition, we discuss future plans, and how we can better work together.

This year’s meeting took place January 29 in Edgefield.

I was very pleased by the officials who came out! We learned a great deal about what other groups are working on, and how that work might affect each of us. I thank all the officials who attended.

Meeting with Citizens

In 2013, I’ll continue to meet with citizens. While I will occasionally hold the morning coffee times or evening chat sessions, I’ve found that I attend so many different meetings throughout the County during the year that many citizens already have easy access to me. Plus, if you don’t see me, you can always call. Also, I try to show up for County Council meetings at least 30 minutes early, so you can always catch me there with any concern you have. (County Council meets on the first Tuesday of each month.)

In addition, we plan to have some special outings for Council this year. Plus, later this year, we’ll hold the first Countywide Summit to discuss issues with citizens and other governmental bodies.

I’ll be giving you more information on these topics soon.

Until next time,

Dean Campbell