Rethinks Action on Law Enforcement Center
April 21, 2021
By Arthur Northrop
This article was written from viewing the digital recording of the Edgefield County Council meeting that took place on Tuesday, April 13. The video can be viewed on YouTube.
County Council Chair Scott Cooper joined the rest of the Council to vote unanimously for the moratorium to pause the development of major subdivisions in Edgefield County for ninety days on its second reading. Cooper noted he had received letters stating opposition to the moratorium from the Edgefield County Schools Superintendent, the Director of ECWSA, and the Towns of Trenton and Edgefield. He also said he did not think the work on the LMO (Land Management Ordinance) would be completed by the end of the moratorium’s 136 days.
Councilperson Dean Campbell made the point that the moratorium only stopped one segment of the County’s development. He stated the moratorium did not stop industrial, commercial, business, home sales, or homes already approved in major subdivisions. He also noted the pause did not impact the Towns of Trenton, Edgefield, or Johnston and PUDs (Planned Unit Developments). “Edgefield is open for business,” stressed Campbell.
The Council was slated to vote on starting the process of site selections for the construction of the new Law Enforcement Center. The agenda item directed the County administrative staff to proceed with a Law Enforcement Center without partnering with Saluda County.
Campbell was recognized and made the point that the 28-million-dollar new Law Enforcement Center was a once-in-a-generation project and the penny sales tax would cover its construction. He said however that the operational expenses of the new center would be more than the County’s center is now and those additional costs would be paid for through property taxes.
Campbell said that the information the Council had received up to this point was anecdotal and the County Council had the responsibility to determine the best option between the one- county versus two-county Law Enforcement Center. Campbell said the information the Council had received up to this point had no specific data and he was not convinced the Council had the right information to make the decision. Campbell requested the County Administration return with an in-depth study with more information in order for the Council to make the best choice.
Sheriff Jody Rowland addressed Campbell’s concerns but was not using a microphone and his comments were not audible on the recorded meeting posted on-line. In a separate interview, interim County Administrator Roger LeDuc communicated that Sheriff Rowland had agreed with Campbell and stated he would gather additional information.
The Council voted unanimously to have the County Administration proceed with the Law Enforcement Center for Edgefield County or a multi-county facility including working with the architects to investigate feasibility of one or more sites.
Roger LeDuc, a recent appointee following the retirement of Tommy Paradise, was recognized as the County Interim Administrator. It was noted that this is the third time he has served in that role.
Councilperson Tiffany Ireland asked Leduc about the transparency of the upcoming LMO public comment meetings that will not be televised. LeDuc explained that the meetings would be limited to twenty people but enough meetings would be scheduled so everyone who wanted to attend would be able to do so. He also said he is working with the County’s staff to make sure the meetings will be conducted in a consistent manner and to make sure the information gathered from each meeting will be made public.
In old business, the Council passed unanimously to enter a joint-owned, industrial/business park located in Aiken County. Edgefield County will receive 1% of Fee in Lieu of Taxes.
In the Council’s Consent Agenda, Dorothy S. Ryanswas appointed to the GLEAMNS Board. In other business, the County Council voted unanimously for the following agenda items:
• An ordinance requesting the Planning Commission to reexamine the section of the Comprehensive Plan that was changed at third reading and approved in June 2019. The Planning Commission reviewed the request at their March 11th meeting. The Planning Commission recommended revising the Comprehensive Land Use and Transportation Plan to the original wording that was in place prior to the June 2019 changes;
• An Ordinance Providing for the FY 2021-2022 General Operating Budget and Establishing Ancillary Budgets for Debt Service, E-911 Administration, Industrial Park, Solid Waste Disposal, Victims’ Bill of Rights, Emergency Medical Services, Road Maintenance, Tri-County Solicitor, Assistant Solicitor, School Resource Officer #1, School Resource Officer #2, School Resource Officer #3, School Resource Officer #4, School Resource Officer #5, School Resource Officer #6, Event Security, Sheriff Grants, Clerk of Court Grants, Pre Trial Intervention, SRO Grant, and Criminal Domestic Violence;”
• The proposed General Fund budget is $12,219,667. The County is anticipating the use of $1,179,703 from the fund balance for general operations in order to balance County expenditures and revenue budgets for the general fund. This budget will still leave 4.2 months of operating expenditures in the County’s reserves;
• Authorization for the County Administrator to sign the authorization to the U.S. Treasury Department to Receive Funds from the American Rescue Plan Act and place those funds in a special account. Edgefield County is expecting to receive approximately $5.3 million from the American Rescue Plan Act;
• Approval to provide the National Fire Safety Council $750 for fire safety training materials;
• Approval to classify one of six heavy equipment operators from full-time to part-time
• Approval of a Request from the Town of Edgefield to attach outdoor lighting to the Edgefield County Library to illuminate the Tompkins Alley;
• Approval of entering into a contract for Medical Director Services from Self Medical Group. This agreement will contract with Self Medical Group for James Washburn, MD to provide Medical Director Services for Edgefield County EMS;
• Approval to amend the rental policy at Bettis Park to allow baseball fields to be rented for $10 an hour without lights;