2011-09-23 / Government / Neighborhood

Richland County Council discusses money for security

By Mike Cox

At the Richland County Council meeting this week, the council approved a budget amendment to readdress the Sheriff’s Department Rank Structure Plan. In this past year’s budget negotiations, the process by which area businesses, primarily malls and large retail stores, pay for off duty officers to provide security was changed.

Originally, the business paid $15 for security, which is provided by off duty officers. A third of that money goes for administrative costs, a third goes to pay the additional funds to the participating deputies, and a third goes into the Victim’s Assistance Fund. In past years, this extra pay was referred to as additional salary. In the most recent budget process, the pay became a bonus.

Bill Malinowski was concerned about tax ramifications to Richland County citizens if the bonus, which has only changed for 2011, is changed back. Tony McDonald, sitting in for a vacationing Milton Pope, assured Malinowski that the fund is self-reliant. Malinowski was concerned that additional salary will be figured into retirement and can cost Richland County money in the future.

MacDonald mentioned that Lexington County and the city of Columbia both have higher starting salaries for deputies than Richland, and the additional salary is a way to keep good deputies from being lured away. The measure passed without opposition.

Two different classrooms had representatives present to see how county government works, so the council tried really hard to be on its best behavior. For the most part, success was achieved.

During a vote for a committee post, deferred from last meeting and left off the agenda, Moryah Jackson was elected to fill a vacant post. Joyce Dickerson asked for reconsideration to keep the item on a time track with last meeting’s minutes. To get an item approved instantly, a council member asks for reconsideration, and then the council votes it down.

This allows that particular item to become law without waiting on the approval of the meeting minutes at the next meeting. A bit of government slightof hand to bypass rules. The key is to vote nay. Someone always seems to forget when this process is applied. In tonight’s example, enough people voted in favor of reconsideration that it passed. Even Dickerson voted yay. The students were surely impressed. ( You just can’t hide real quality.)

Ernest Swiger of Ernest Swiger Consultants was on hand to give the council a riveting and informative explanation of the process involved by his company to compile the report for the Adoption of Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice, which the council approved later in the evening. ( A copy would make a great gift for the avid reader in your BFF circle.)

An ordinance to allow rural landowners to divide their property among relatives was deferred by Norman Jackson because he wants to see the form the Planning Commission will use to establish a quit claim for Richland County. Jackson had been fighting the idea of holding the county harmless in such cases since this bill was initiated.

Chair Paul Livingston, Vice Chair Damon Jeter, Joyce Dickerson, Val Hutchinson, Norman Jackson, Gwen Kennedy, Bill Malinowski, Jim Manning, Greg Pearce, Seth Rose, and Kelvin Washington were present.

More detailed information as well as complete agendas and minutes from past meetings can be found at the Richland County website: richlandonline.com

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