Ridgeway Faces Do-Over on Book Deal

Plans Constitute Improper Use of H-Tax

RIDGEWAY (March 2, 2017) – Town Council’s decision during their Feb. 9 meeting to dip into hospitality tax funds in order to publish a history of Ridgeway, then dump profits from the sale of the book into the Town’s general fund is going to have to be pulled, Mayor Charlene Herring confirmed Friday, after The Voice discovered such a diversion of H-tax funds was prohibited by statute.

“The current statute does not provide for the transfer of funds from the hospitality tax to another fund,” Scott Slatton of the S.C. Municipal Association said, “unless it is for operational expenses related to hospitality tax programs.”

Ridgeway can use H-tax funds to publish the book, but Slatton said all monies generated from its sale would have to go back into the H-tax fund.

Noting that it was one of Council’s strategic priorities for 2017, Herring told Council on Feb. 9 that she had found an outlet that would publish 125 copies of an approximately 100-page history of Ridgeway for $2,271. She asked Council to approve using hospitality tax funds to cover the cost of the publication. The book could be sold, she said, for between $20 and $25, netting the Town a profit of $229 to $854, after the hospitality tax fund had been repaid.

Although Herring suggested the profit should also go into the hospitality tax kitty, Councilwoman Angela Harrison’s motion, which was approved unanimously by Council, called for the profits to go into the Town’s general fund.

Councilman Heath Cookendorfer was absent from the Feb. 9 meeting.

“What we will have to do is go back and undo that,” Herring said Friday after learning of the error, “which will be fine with me and I think fine with Council.”

Herring called the error a “harmless” oversight.

Police Car Lighting

During their Jan. 19 meeting, Council approved a bid of $2,407.15 to rewire the police car with up-to-code emergency lights, but on Feb. 9 Mayor Charlene Herring said that quote had proven to be inaccurate. The correct quote, she said, was for $3,367.87 from a company in Lexington.

Council rejected a slightly lower bid – $3,174.22 – from a company in Spartanburg County.

“Why we need to consider the $3,367 bid, this company is in Lexington, S.C. The other company is in Roebuck, which is a little above Spartanburg,” Councilman Donald Prioleau told Council, “so to carry the car to have the equipment installed, carry the car back … you’re talking a difference of $193. The travel time will eat that up, so I think we need to go with the Lexington, S.C. bid.”

Council unanimously approved the higher bid.

Audit Report

Herring also told Council that the Town had received a clean audit report and asked Council to submit in writing any questions on the audit for review at Council’s March 9 meeting.