Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Disputes by councilmembers over their voting have changed the way Kingstree Town Council will have their vote recorded. The change from a show of hands to a roll call was employed during councilís June 16, meeting but the reason behind the action was the result during a May 12, meeting where Councilmembers Darren Tisdale, Luester McCullough, and Bubba Hammet were counted as voting in opposition to second and final reading of the 2013-14 Budget Amendment Ordinance 2014-06 but later claimed they voted in favor of the motion. Before council voted on the ordinance, Kingstree Town Manager Dan Wells explained its purpose, which allows for the early payoff of a pair of water/sewer revenue bonds at a savings of approximately $70,000 in interest rates. After the meeting was adjourned the topic was brought up and Tisdale stated he voted in favor of the ordinance. However, the mayor, clerk and town attorney stated they saw Tisdale raise his hand in opposition. Wells advised Tisdale to bring the matter before council during councilís next meeting where it could be certified and his vote could be placed on record. However, according to Wells, a day or two later Tisdale emailed the town clerk and asked the clerk to change the record, which is a violation of the law.
The News verified the email correspondence through a Freedom of Information request. According to the Municipal Association of South Carolina handbook for municipal officials, state law forbids councilmembers (or the mayor) from dealing with employees or interfering with the operation of municipal department, offices or agencies under the managerís direction. Councilmembers are expected to be well versed in their duties of the office.
During the June 16, meeting the three councilmembers said they voted for the Budget Amendment Ordinance. The News queried Hammet and McCullough on why they voted against the ordinance after their May 12, vote but both declined to comment. Hammet told council he voted for the amendment but not second reading of the 2-14 Budget Ordinance. The second reading of the 2014 Budget Ordinance was on the agenda and voted on in a separate motion.