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County Council, February 22

County to take over management of municipal elections?
Votes to continue “intern” program
Warwick Jones

There was little of contention or great import before the meeting of the Finance Committee today. The Town of Hollywood asked the County to take over management of its elections; the Committee approved $60,000 for an intern program, and agreed to defer discussion on the County’s compensation philosophy.

Whether the County likes it or not, it seems likely that its Board of Elections and Voter Registration ultimately will conduct elections in all the municipalities of the County. Presently the County administers those in Awendaw and McLellanville, so taking on Hollywood would not be a problem, particularly as the cost would be born by the municipality. No Council member had objection to the move. But the Committee was told that the State Legislature is presently considering legislation that would require the County, and presumably others in the State, to take on the responsibility for elections in their respective municipalities. Allied with this assumption of responsibility most likely will be uniform election dates.

Some questions on the intern program

If there was a contentious issue, it was barely so and related to “Change a life, hire a kid”. This is the name given to a program to hire youth over the summer break as interns for the County and for some local firms. The Committee was asked to approve $60,000 for payments under the program - $10,000 for a coordinator and $50,000 for the youth. The County has had some form of intern program for years and last year took in about 70 interns of which about 20 were placed with local companies. The balance was hired by the County. It wants to do the same this year.

Council members Thurmond and Bostic had some issues. Why wasn’t this program dealt with through the budget and why were funds coming from Contingencies? Shouldn’t funding be considered as part of Outside Agencies? Staff said that the program had nothing to do with Outside Agencies. Also, the program was considered last year after the budget deliberations and it was more a matter of timing more than anything else that it was not considered. Council member Bostic voted for the funding but Council member Thurmond did not. He said he was all for intern programs but was not sure the County should be funding one, at least in the manner that was now proposed.

Council members Pryor and Inabinett spoke in favor of the program and the help that it gave youth in gaining employment experience. The Committee approved the funding.

Presentation on Compensation Philosophy was deferred
We thought that the scheduled presentation by County Administrator Canterbury on Compensation Philosophy would generate some interesting discussion. However because of the absence of the Chairman, Council agreed to defer the item until next month. The documents that accompanied today’s meeting included a summary of recommendations of Staff. These were:

• Target lower level County jobs at slightly above competitive levels
• Replace the five year Retain Employees of Value (REV) increase plan with a more frequent longevity increase plan
• Ensure current employees will not be negatively impacted with the change from REV to longevity
• The proposed COLA increase is given to all employees.

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