Greenville Budget Hearing Results In A Divided Council

The Town of Greenville had their first public hearing to consider the Budget and Millage Rate for the upcoming fiscal year of 2014-2015. The meeting opened up smoothly with Jim Parrish, Greenville’s acting Town Manager, reading the proposed millage rate of 9.0439, and the proposed budget, estimated with revenues and expenditures to be $1,062,931, to the council for approval. The council approved both millage rate and budget amount, moving them to the third item on the agenda, scheduling the public hearing date to officially adopt the budget, with the decision being Sept.15 at 6 p.m.
Opening up the podium to the public brought an end to the meetings calm atmosphere, when resident Patricia Hinton made propositions to the council on raising the salaries of Town Clerk Kimberly Reams and Deputy Clerk Carolyn Spears, and to add an additional position to the Public Works department. There was an obvious divide in the council on both proposals, bringing about heavy discussion and accusation from both sides. In the end, a motion was made by councilmember Alphonso Young to grant both Reams and Spears the requested raises, with councilmember Elesta Pritchett seconding his motion. In a separate motion, Young proposed another employment position be created in Greenville’s Public Works department, and found a second to his motion from Vice Mayor Barbara Dansey. Voting on both proposals, council members Dansey, Young and Pritchett were “for” and councilmember Calvin Malone and Mayor Arnold Kovacherich were “against.”
The remaining agenda items were passed quickly, with no dissention from members on the council, opening up the podium to the public once again. Madison County Commissioner Ronnie Moore addressed the council on concerns from volunteer firemen who had understood, after the council’s August meeting, that funding was being withheld from the volunteer fire department. Moore stated he had heard a vote was taken to withhold funds, but that he could find no such vote on record, and was concerned about the department’s ability to respond to fires if funding was lacking. The discussion resulted in misinformation on the part of the firefighters, but Moore still felt the fire department could benefit from improvements, with one of these improvements being to create satellite departments in different parts of the county and said it was a topic he would like to see addressed “in the very near future.”
The meeting ended with department reports, the first report from Public Works being the longest and a report that, once again, disrupted the calm. Public Works Supervisor JC Fed reported that even with the sanitation truck being out of commission, it was something being addressed and all was running well. Mayor Kovacherich and councilmember Malone verbalized their disagreement with Fed’s report, citing “safety issues” and “financial management issues.” Questions and comments from both Kovacherich and Malone, directed towards Fed, brought about disagreement from other members of the council, along with interruptions and raised voices. Parrish eventually dissolved the discussion admonishing the council that their job was to implement policy, not be involved in the department’s day-to-day management. Town Attorney Christine Thurman expounded on Parrish’s comments, instructing Kovacherich and Malone to stay focused on set agenda items and if there were issues of concern, they should be added to the meeting’s agenda in order for her to be prepared with proper council. Mayor Kovacherich moved the meeting forward with remaining department reports and the meeting’s end finishing smoothly.
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Rose Klein

Written by Rose Klein