We, The People. July Edition

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Another great holiday has passed with the opportunity for us to all celebrate the birth of this great nation.  I hope everyone got a chance to think about the sacrifices, the foresight, the wisdom and the providence of the great men and women that helped make our country great.  We should make it a point to show our respect and gratitude for the freedoms afforded to us by staying informed and involved.  Our history has shown how great a force we as a people can be when we stand up for freedom. 

 

A great deal of work has been done since I took office on January 4, 2011.  I don't know exactly what I expected when I came on board, but I must say that I was a little surprised to find a council so willing to really get to work and take on some very difficult issues.  You may recall that one of the very first items we tackled was revamping our legal representation.  We could have stayed with the status quo as we had done for over 30 years.  Council, however, was willing to look at the numbers to see if another alternative was more efficient.  We now have a new legal team that works only for the county with a projected savings of $200K - $300K per year. 

 

Another item we decided to take on was that of major county construction project that many of you had concerns about - the Tyger River Regional Park.  As you know, this project had some major budget issues which could have continued to go unnoticed.  Your representatives were diligent and took the necessary steps to rein in the problem before it got further out of control.  When all was said and done, the parks

department re-submitted its budget which was 25% less than they submitted just 3 months earlier.  Even if you don't account for money that could have gone unchecked, this new budget saved you nearly two million dollars and ultimately resulted in a tax break for property owners in Spartanburg. 

 

Council also took the opportunity to take a stand on the side of private property rights by cancelling Spartanburg's membership to the United Nations-sponsored International Coalition for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI).  I've outlined the problems with them here earlier, but if you don't know how big a deal this was, just Google ICLEI or AGENDA 21 and you'll see for yourself.  You should be proud that Spartanburg is one of only 6 counties in the country to break the grip.  Once again, your council stood up when tested. 

 

During this budget process council ran up against an old nemesis: Detention Center overtime.  Evidently council has been dealing with this for at least 5 years.  Their budget for this and previous years was in excess of $2.6M - just for overtime!  This year, however, council once again took a stand and stopped the budget process in its tracks until the problem was resolved.  After much research and discussion, council approached the Sheriff with the proposition of taking over the center with the goals of fixing the overtime problem, boosting morale, and saving at least $1.0M.  After much prayer and consultation, our Sheriff agreed and we were able to move the budget forward.  Once again, instead of passing this problem down the road as had been the case in previous years, your council owned the problem and offered a solution.

 

Our budget for 2011-2012 is now complete and enacted.  Although we heard the doom and gloom about this being the worst economic year in modern history (which it is) and that we were losing over $1M from our state funding (which we did) and our collection rates being low (which they are) we were still able to pass a budget that maintained employment and service levels, funded our outside agencies and promoted our quality of life AND INCLUDED A TAX BREAK.  Although that is exactly how a government should work, it is relatively unheard of in our times.  Even Governor Haley commented that Spartanburg is what "good government looks like for taxpayers" and that we were a "great example for other local governments". 

 

Now, before you think that I'm taking up my article to just brag on what your council did, let me share the truth with you.  YOU are totally responsible for the direction of your council.  YOU are the ones who makes the difference.  YOU are more involved and informed than ever before.  YOU are writing notes and emails and making phone calls. Your representatives are hearing from you, and it's making a difference.  They are not just hearing the criticism but also the encouragement.  YOU, The People are really changing the way your county does business.  I for one am grateful for that and encourage you to keep the momentum up and keep making a difference.  I hope from what you've seen these last six months you realize how much of a difference you made last November and how much influence you have for the years to come.

 

Please keep the momentum up and stay informed.  By now, you know how to reach me online through the website, Facebook, YouTube and email  Don't ever hesitate to contact me or any of your representatives at any time.  We work for you!  Also, I'll probably be in your neighborhood knocking on your door sometime this year so don't hesitate to ask me any questions that you may have.  Thanks for allowing me to represent you, and as always, God Bless!


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