The Tuesday, July 14 Richland County Council meeting opened with a missing agenda item that was eventually found—a divide the question vote on whether to go into executive session and a lengthy executive session period.
After the session ended, the council voted to reject the settlement proposal by the South Carolina Board of Revenue, opening further negotiations, but to address the “other issue” which wasn’t made public. Project Quattro, a secret negotiation with an unnamed company over possible reduction of tax revenues, was approved.
During Citizens’ Input, parts of a lengthy email were read from Franklin B. Buie, expressing concern about the water runoff from Spears Creek into the lake at Wood Creek Farms subdivision. Buie, evidently unaware of the two minute limit for Citizens’ Input, gave a lengthy history of the lake, dam, and problems that arose when a garbage dump was closed on a hill nearby the stream.
Per council rules, his email was cut off at the two minute mark but County Clerk Kimberly Williams-Roberts promised to forward the entire email to all council members so Mr. Buie’s concerns will be heard in their entirety.
During his administrator’s report, Leonardo Brown gave the council an update on COVID-19. Brown cited a statistic from a letter from the governor stating 40 percent of those testing positive for the virus show no symptoms, and then he explained an incident at Glenn Detention Center and several positive cases were discovered where the patients exhibited no symptoms. He explained steps being performed to make sure any spread of the coronavirus is limited.
Brown also reported a fact sheet on the recently passed Richland County mask ordinance would be available to county residents in several forms to help everyone understand what is required. Masks have been ordered for distribution by the county, and area volunteer groups for anyone needing one.
When asked about enforcement of the ordinance, Brown said the Sheriff’s Department supported the ordinance but didn’t want to involve large amounts of time enforcing it. Brown said fire marshalls and county code enforcement officers were authorized to enforce the ordinance.
Brown gave the council a report on his investigation into the P-Card process, which has been in the news recently and likely led to the defeat of a sitting council member. Brown said there are several gaps in the P-Card process that need to be addressed by council to prevent misunderstandings, clarify rules and limits of usage, and allow people overseeing the process to feel more comfortable about questioning the usage of higher ranking employees’ use of the card.
Examples included a gap between P-Cards and council members discretionary funds, P-Cards not being tied to a particular budget, and no particular language giving guidance toward card usage by council members. Brown suggested the council work with staff to tighten rules concerning P- Card usage and verification.
Following Brown’s information, Council Member Dalhi Myers, who has been implicated in local news stories and was recently ousted in a runoff election for her current seat, read a prepared statement saying she asked Brown for the investigation, has nothing on her P-Card that isn’t authorized, and said members of Richland
County government have “weaponized” the control process rather than trying to make sure everything was legitimate. She also suggested racism was behind the allegations against her. Her statement in its entirety can be read on the county website under the minutes of this meeting.
During a public hearing for an item referred to as Project Novel, which is a student housing complex on property near the Richland County Library, several people signed up to speak. Former Mayor Bob Coble, Andrew Savoy, and Matt Kennell expressed support for the project and subsequent tax relief. Barton Walrath and Maureen O’Hare were against it. O’Hare wondered if there was a ten-year plan by the county to control growth, and Walrath was against wasting tax revenue on such projects.
In other actions the council appointed L L Buddy Wilson Jr. to LRADAC.
Paul Livingston Chair; Dalhi Myers, Vice Chair; Joyce Dickerson; Calvin “Chip” Jackson; Yvonne McBride; Bill Malinowski; Jim Manning; Chakissa Newton; Allison Terracio; and Joe Walker III participated in the meeting. Gwen Kennedy did not.