Conservatives Of The Upstate meets the 2nd Thursday of each month @ 6:30PM.
THERE WILL BE NO DECEMBER 2017 MEETING

Blue Ridge Bible Church
769 Belle Shoals Rd
Pickens SC 29671



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Monday, February 13, 2017

History Of The Pickens County Rec Fund ...


History of Recreation Fund in Pickens County

A FOIA (Freedom Of Information Act) request was sent to Pickens County regarding a speech that Pickens County Attorney, Ken Roper gave to the County Council at their last retreat before they went into Executive Session. 

A second FOIA has been sent to request each council member by name and expenditure from their accounts by amount and to which entity received said amount.

A document was sent back entitled, “Pickens County Recreation Fund-Background.” 

Here is a summary of this presentation:

In 1993, a 1 mil tax was mandated for the recreational funding in Pickens County. Council appointed an Advisory Committee. A written manual with procedures that laid out the manner in which these funds were to be administered was created. Entities would have to apply for these funds by following the bylaws of said manual. Any rollover of funds not used for that year had to be approved by Council. Strict guidelines were put in place as to what constituted "best practices" for funding certain recreational requests. Some items such as bleachers and landscaping expenses were not considered priority funding. Items such as: playing field land acquisition, walking paths, picnic shelters, etc were considered priority. A competitive bidding clause was added into the manual's procedures. The main beneficiary of these Recreational Funds were the municipalities.

After 2006, the appointed Advisory Committee was allowed to expire and the County Council decided they could best be in charge of making decisions on the allocation of funds. In 2007, each individual council person began to be in charge of directing the funds to their districts. There was an annual budget of $300,000 designated as RECREATION FUNDS. Council, at their individual discretion and without full vote of the council, had 1/6th of that total ...which equated to $50,000 a year each.

When this "new allocation method" went into effect and there were no written guidelines also came no appointed advisory committee to provide oversight. Some of these elected council members began thinking of these funds as “theirs”. The only guideline in place was that funds had to go to non-profit groups. Funds became to be used for other purposes than recreation. Council members even began to use funds to curry voting favor. Some funds were used to pay entities that benefited other council members.

Some council began to believe it was fine to purchase real property with their allocation. Council realized problems were arising from that decision.  A full vote of council to approve any land purchases was added as another clause.

In 2013, the fund was given the name “Recreation, Tourism, and Hospitality Fund.”. A resolution was passed that these funds could be given out by the individual councilman as long as it "looked wise" to the other councilmen. Noteworthy, the whole council was not being advised of the individual members allocation of their funds in their district.

The council's lawyer has now advised the council that what is taking place is in violation of the Home Rule Act SC Code Section 4-9-660 that “council shall deal with county officers and employees who are subject to the direction and supervision of the county administrator solely through the administrator, and neither the council nor its members shall give orders or instructions to any such officers or employees.” 

Section 4-9-620 says, “council shall employ an administrator who shall be the administrative head of the county government and shall be responsible for the administration of all the departments of the county government which the council has the authority to control.”

According to FOIA the current balance status as of 12/31/2016 the Recreation funds are:

District 1 
$119,849 ( no allocations recently)

District 2 
$25,033.05 (Six Mile and Central received $20 thousand each)

District 3 
$11,050.14 ( $17,000 for renovations at Senior Center Auditorium, $20,485.15 for a tractor at Hagood Mill 

District 4 
$107,018.50 (recently funds were dispersed for Liberty Civic Auditorium, marketing of events, equipment, curtains and ongoing services by a private production company. In the final days before the new councilman took over, there were directives made toward the School District, the Library, the Town of Central, Easley Museum, Upstate Equine Club, Clemson Music Festival and Easley Soccer Club) One such allocation paid for Chastain Road Elementary students to go on a field trip to Washington DC - is that of local benefit or local tourism to ALL constituents in that district?)

District 5 
$71,587 (no allocations recently)

District 6 
$58,717.80 This fund pays for a county employee who is manager of recreation in Dacusville area as there is no municipal recreation department in that area.

The fact that each member gets to use “their” funds for "their" district based on "their feelings”... is not good governance. The new council should go back to setting up stricter guidelines on how this money can be allocated. It is understood that when the old system was in place that sometimes the smaller districts did not get their “fair” share when the whole council had to vote on the allocation of funds. That could be a problem. But, leaving the decision up to one council person can lead to garnering votes for re-election. Money does buy votes! Council should control this funding, which is our tax dollars, in a more ethical way. No tax dollar should be treated as a private stash. 

Remain vigilant taxpayers! 

We need to all be watchdogs and remember you do have the power of FOIA!

*Written by members of COTU with special thanks to Johnnelle Raines.

* initial request regarding Southern Wesleyan University funding

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