Public turnout was heavier than usual for last evening’s meeting of Laurens County Council, with the final reading and approval of the 2013-2014 General Budget. County employees, department heads and organizations dependant on county funds all waited patiently through the public hearing on third reading of the budget, with Coroner Nick Nichols addressing council on the issue of physically holding deceased people’s money, that is finances in the possession of some when they expire. Coroner Nichols expressed concern that in the past he has been responsible for up to several thousand dollars left in his possession after a death. County Administrator Ernie Segars asked the coroner to turn those funds in to him and they could be held in the safe at his office. It was clarified that these were not county funds and not an issue with the treasurer’s office but the safest place to keep these monies would be in the county safe. The public hearing closed with no further comments to council.
The 3rd reading on the special education appropriation for the 1 mil 90/10 split given yearly to Piedmont Tech and USCU-Laurens was then opened for vote. Councilwoman Anderson made motion to accept with a second from Councilman Tollison. A conversation ensued with Keith Tollison asking exactly where the funds went. Ernie Segars explained that the checks from the county went to the general funds accounts at Piedmont Tech and USC Union. Joe Wood noted that it was his understanding that this money was to aid in general upkeep of the Higher Education Center and thought the money should go to the local offices of both schools and not the school’s general accounts. Keith Tollison then addressed the issue of USCU-Laurens leaving the center and that there was no reason to give them money that they could take with them when they left. Diane Anderson then rescinded her original motion and made provision that her motion to accept would be contingent on USCU-Laurens’ funding be pro-rated for the length of time they are in the Higher Education Center, as they plan to leave the center in December. Tollison re-clarified his second. County attorney Cruickshanks then read the revision including the pro-rating of funds for USCU-Laurens and their balance going to Piedmont Tech. The ordinance passed 6-1 with Joe Wood in opposition to giving any funds to USCU-Laurens.
Laurens County Council last night also approved a resolution to allocate just over 1 million dollars from the local option sales tax to the general fund. That passed 5-2.
Council also entered executive session to discuss seven employment matters. Upon returning to session, Chairman Jim Coleman stated that a committee led by Councilman McDaniel would work on a new standardized hiring policy. Without any other comments from council, the 2013-2014 Laurens County Budget came to vote with a motion made by Councilman Nash and seconded by Councilwoman Anderson. The budget passed 4-3.