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County Council, September 4

Council to vote on comparative remuneration study
Spring Grove Development awaiting County Approval
Warwick Jones

Most of last night’s Finance Committee meeting was taken up by discussion over the update and amendments to Policy and Procedures for compensation. It followed on the decision by Council a month back to adopt the recommendations of the Committee for Auditing Performance and Evaluation Standards (CAPES). These recommendations related to a complete revision of job classifications, the pay system, and the introduction of merit awards for County employees. (We summarized the proposed revisions in our report on July 24). Before Council last night were the detailed changes and amendments that were necessary for Personnel/Policy to reflect the recommendations of CAPES.

We won’t attempt to describe the changes. Viewers can see the document by accessing the County Web site and viewing the Agenda items for last night’s meeting.

There was some discussion about Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) and merit pay increases. But perhaps the most important issue was the need for a comparative study of remuneration, of those working for the County, and those working for other Counties and entities. As suggested by some Council members, this was the final piece in setting right the County’s pay practice. But as Chairman Pryor said, the cost of a comparative study could well exceed $100,000. There was no point in making a large outlay if Council was going to vote against salary increases that seemed necessary in the light of study. He left no doubt that he supported the study and the need for the County to act in its aftermath, even though it may prove costly.

We’d say that most Council members were in agreement with the Chair, at least in moving ahead with the comparative study. County Administrator Taylor noted that it had been 16 years since Council had reviewed pay scales, and a review was needed. Council in 1999 had agreed that a review should be undertaken every 5 years. But this had never happened. A vote to move ahead with the study will be taken on Tuesday evening at the Council meeting.

The Finance Committee meeting was preceded by a presentation by Mr. Ken Seeger on the proposed Spring Grove Development in East Edisto. Mr. Seeger is the President of MWV East Edisto Spring Grove LLC, the developer.

Mr. Seeger spoke of the history of the development and the present broad plans. He also spoke of the complexity and scale of the project. The LLC had now made the formal applications to proceed – for a Development of County Significance, and a Form District Master Plan. These were now being studied by County staff and Legal. Once the agreements were signed, Mr. Seeger said that the LLC could move ahead with the first phase of the development – an industrial/business area abutting Highway 17 and the railway line that cuts through the area.

Mead West Vaco originally planned to include in the Development Agreement (DA) all of the 32,000 acres it owned in the County. It subsequently decided that 18,000 of these acres could be set aside and protected without inclusion in the DA. Consequently, the DA relates now to about 14,000 acres. Of this amount, 75% is to be placed under Reserved Open Sector. The balance of 3,500 acres will be split into Controlled and Intended Growth Sectors.

The contents of the Development Agreement submitted by the LLC have not been made public. But as Council member Rawl stated, as Chair of the East Edisto Development Review Team, when approved and released, it will answer many of the questions raised by Council members.

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