Cooperation is Key

A note of thanks for the vote of confidence in returning me to House Seat 41. I will work hard for us. Continue to pray for decisions made on behalf of the citizens in this state.

As I reflect on the last 1 1/2 years in your seat for District 41 in the House of Representatives, I think I owe a commentary from this perspective.

My only agenda is and will always be to promote Fairfield County and other parts of the district in a positive way. We have accomplished much during the last 16 months and more work is needed. I will say that the most difficult challenge has been the resistance that exists with our local county government.

Multiple attempts have been made to discuss issues concerning the county and especially those of the dollars that will flow to us after (V.C. Summer Nuclear Station) reactors #2 and #3 come on line. These are not called taxes; but are “fee in lieu of” dollars. This means that there is an established rate that will be paid. Our county council is the responsible party for receiving these dollars and expending these dollars; but these dollars still belong to the citizens of Fairfield County. These funds are expected to begin to flow within the next 4 – 5 years.

With that in mind, Sen. Creighton Coleman and I approached several utility companies to assist with a study to determine the best use of these dollars. They were receptive and we proceeded to solicit letters of support from The Town of Winnsboro, Town of Ridgeway, Town of Jenkinsville, the Fairfield School District and the County Council. The County Council has stated that they see no value in this as they have a plan. We explained that it would be beneficial to the Fairfield Delegation to know what the “plan” was. A copy of a document, “2020 Development Plan” dated 3/25/13 was sent to us. It has lots of pictures of buildings and is dated 2009 – 2012. There has been some mention of a plan that is referred to as a “wish list.” This is not planning.

On the heels of receiving this 2020 Development Plan, we read in a local paper that County Council voted to look into contracting with Central Midlands Regional Planning Council to conduct a study. This speaks to the lack of communication/collaboration that exists among your elected officials. County Council will quickly say that the delegation has the problem. Please know that many attempts have been made to meet with them. As of this date, it has not happened.

As we conducted town hall meetings, we listened to ideas/expectations by interested citizens. We see that input would be solicited from the following groups:

• The general public/taxpayer

• Fairfield County Council

• Town of Winnsboro

• Town of Jenkinsville

• Town of Ridgeway

• Chamber of Commerce

• School District

• Utility Companies

• Other appropriate stakeholders

Listed below are some ideas for inclusion in a plan for Fairfield County:

• Reduction/elimination of taxes on primary residences

• Reduce the tax burden on small business. They never get a break.

• Base funding for the Towns of Winnsboro, Jenkinsville, and Ridgeway

• Funding for appropriate Emergency Care Facility

• Infrastructure for I-77 corridor to facilitate companies to locate in Fairfield County & the jobs will follow.

• Recreation/Fitness/Art/Museum/Historical development programs

• Scholarships for local students who will return after technical school/college with skill sets needed for our community

• Fund our Chamber of Commerce to further the good things they are currently doing on a “shoe string” budget

• Investment counseling

• Trust fund established for catastrophic/emergency situation with power plant

These are ideas for consideration and are practical. More importantly, they are “do-able.”

If you review what we currently have coming from SCE&G, property owners, penny sales tax, state and federal dollars, many of these items could be addressed. Reactor #1 is the current source of money from SCE&G. This source of revenue could be used to reduce taxes. The statement was made that we would lose a lot of money from this source if we reduced the millage on primary property. And yes, SCE&G will save in a big way. They are good neighbors and I believe they would be willing to take whatever savings that is realized for them and place this is a trust fund for “Disaster/Catastrophic” situations. This would be the right thing to do. Everybody wins. If a significant savings is realized, we could ask to keep utility rates down. If that is possible, others throughout the service area of SCE&G would win as well.

It is not my desire to adversarial. I also realize that any idea I have will not be entertained by the current county council. My obligation and commitment is to this county and her people and other parts of District 41. I plan to continue to offer ways to make support moving Fairfield forward.

We will continue to have what we have if we settle for what we have got.

I ask you to join me in making plans for this place we call “home.” These are ideas. Ideas turn into visions We have great potential for great vision in and for this county. Please become a part of the vision.

I appreciate the trust that you have placed in me by re-electing me to House Seat 41. I am open to the ideas of others. I look forward to serving with you during this next term of office and honored to serve in your seat in the S.C. House of Representatives.