Council Mulls New Policy for Discretionary Spending

WINNSBORO – At the first budget work session two weeks ago, Council discussed its discretionary spending fund. County Administrator Milton Pope told Council on Monday night that $2,500 per Council district was budgeted and he recommended Council move forward with that amount. He told Council that he and staff were crafting a new policy regarding the use of the discretionary funds by Council members. Councilman Kamau Marcharia expressed concern about how the changes would affect the fairness in how Council members would spend discretionary funds.

Council Chairman David Ferguson said, “What Mr. Pope is trying to do is be sure everything is done legitimately so that all seven Council members have to go by the same guidelines. I think this thing about helping kids go to school is paramount,” Ferguson said, “but the people want us all held to the same standards. But kids who can’t afford to go to school, that’s a big reason to spend this money.”

Pope said he would like, instead of using the word ‘discretionary,’ to call it something else.

“It seems to target needs the Council sees in the community, based on history, that is not already a source of funding in our budget,” Pope said. “Staff is trying to put a structure in place to make sure it’s a public process. Council will identify the criteria we want to target and indicate how you want to spend that money. Then that criteria will be publicly announced so that people in the districts will know when that money is available and how much (is available), so there is no question about the legitimacy about the areas Council chooses to target,” Pope said. “We want to have protections in place. We must have a policy in place, or we’ll have to stand the test of someone questioning us about how we’re spending these dollars.”

Pope said he would present the policy to Council in the near future.

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