Dillon County council votes for a judge to decide if budget is legal

DILLON, SC (WBTW) – Dillon County Council held a special called meeting Monday to pick one of the three options the county treasurer gave them last week.

Those options were to:

  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 ‘Writ of Mandamus’ against the treasurer

On Friday, county council was worried employees would not get paid this week and made plans to pass a continuing resolution. The resolution would have the treasurer disburse county money. However, Monday county members had a change of heart.

The meeting started with an executive session. Then the council voted 5-2 for a ‘Writ of Mandamus’, where a judge will decide if the budget is legal or not. Council voted 3-4 for the continuing resolution.

County Chairman Archie Scott said council made the move when they found out county employees will still be paid.

“At one minute it’s in black and white the treasurer says she’s not going to distribute any checks. Then the next minute we’re getting information from her that. That’s not what she meant. She didn’t mean she wasn’t to pay the employees,” explained Scott. “So, however, it’s all up in the air. We believe that the best resolution to this thing again is to take it before a judge and let the judge decide.”

County Treasurer Jamie Estes did not want to go on camera but said the mandamus will “remove liability” from the treasurer.

Scott said Council stands behind the approved budget.

“We think three meetings and a public hearing, by law that’s what we are required to do,” said Scott.

The treasurer not only included the school district, she also includes Northeastern Technical College Dillon campus in the lawsuit.

Northeastern Technical College Board of Commissioner Chairman Dan Bozard said in 2002 council voted to give the campus 2 mills or $114 thousand dollars of tax money each year. However, the college did not receive the money last year.

“That’s a question that needs to be answered. As to whether we will get the millage going forward or not,” said Bozard.

County Financial Director Richard Gaddy said the county budgeted $114,000 to the school for 2016-2017 year.

The approved budget includes $100,000 for the 2017- 2018 year.

Bozard said the school will continue to grow with the Inland Port coming to the county regardless of what a judge decides.

“We’re not walking away from Dillon county, “said Bozard. “We’ve got too much… there is too much opportunity to walk away. We’re not going to do that.”

County Administrator Rodney Berry hopes to have an emergency hearing before a judge by the end of this week.