Dillon County Treasurer questions legality of approved county budget

DILLON, SC (WBTW) – The power struggle continues in Dillon County. Friday, Dillon County Council held a special meeting to review the County Treasures request for a Judge to determine if the approved budget is legal.

This comes after a controversial public hearing where four people from the School District challenged the county’s decision to cut funds to the district.

Since then the county approved the budget giving the schools no money.

After a nearly two hours in executive session County Chairman Archie Scott said council members are worried county employees will not be paid next week.

“[From] what we can understand she [the county treasurer] has an issue as to whether or not the budget that we passed was sufficient for her to pay the bills,” explained Scott. “That’s putting the citizens of Dillon County, certainly the employees in a bad position.”

Treasurer Jamie Estes did not want to go on camera but said county employees will continue to be paid.

Estes explained she handles money for both the county and school district and wants a court order to make sure she is spending county money correctly.

Monday, she filed a ‘request of judgment’. Asking a judge to determine if the approved budget is legal and how much the school district should receive.

The paperwork said the budget may be illegal because the council did not allow the public to comment on the budget.

Also, the second reading was different from the final reading and there was no motion to amend the ordinance.

Scott admits Council did change the budget after the second reading and public hearing.

For the second reading, the county included $150,000 for the schools. Opposed to $319,000 the school district received last year.

Scott said the school district asked for the full amount or no money.

“We had $150,000 for the schools,” said Scott. “The budget was amended [for the third and final reading]. That money was taken out [of the budget].”

Tuesday, Estes’ attorney sent a letter to the county that said until the issues surrounding the budget are resolved she will not disburse any funds after Friday, July 14th.

The treasurer gave the county three options and 30 days to make a decision before a judge takes over:

  1. Immediately pass a continuing resolution giving permission to distribute the money
  2. Have first reading on a new budget that can be passed within thirty days.
  3. File a petition of Mandamus against the treasurer

Scott said the council is looking into passing a continuing resolution to make sure county employees are paid.

Council plans to have an emergency meeting next Monday to pass the resolution.

News13 did reach out to the Dillon County School District they said they will release a statement Tuesday.