Council ‘retreats’ to Lake Wateree Hideaway

WINNSBORO – It’s called The Hideaway at Lake Wateree.

Situated on the secluded shores of Lake Wateree, 22 miles east of downtown Winnsboro, the 3,513-square-foot Airbnb get-a-way sleeps nine, has over 200 feet of lake frontage, and its own boat dock

“The sun neither rises nor sets facing the front,” a listing on states. “It’s a very quiet neighborhood. Most nearby homeowners only visit on weekends in the summer.

The home is an idyllic setting for a summer getaway. It’s also the site Fairfield County Council Chairman Neil Robinson has decided on for the county’s annual budget retreat.

Officially, the retreat meeting, which is open to the public, is scheduled for Saturday, April 13, from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

However, because the home requires a minimum three-night stay, reserving the home will cost Fairfield County taxpayers about $900 [with a possible $150 refund upon departure]. This prompted protest from at least one council member.

“The County owns plenty of facilities where we could hold whatever meetings we need to at no cost,” Councilman Douglas Pauley said in a prepared statement at Monday night’s council meeting.

“The expenditure of over $900 to rent the house for the weekend, in my opinion, is not a prudent use of our citizens’ money,” he said.

Pauley also worried the retreat’s time and location would make it inaccessible for constituents who may wish to attend. “Meetings like this should be held in locations familiar to the general public and citizens who regularly attend our meetings,” he said. “Holding meetings like this in locations that people aren’t familiar with is a barrier to them attending.”

Robinson said he worked with county administration to find a location that’s affordable and accessible.

He said the intent is to meet in a setting “without a shirt and tie on,” and discuss county business openly in a relaxed setting.

“Sometimes we have writer’s block, so to say,” Robinson said. “Sitting here behind this desk, you may not have the idea at this time.”

Robinson said he’s paying for the food, which consists of a cookout for attending council members. Citizens attending will be on their own for lunch. As for the $900, Robinson didn’t see any issues with the expenditure.

“It is only money council members have not gone to class to educate themselves that we’re using,” Robinson said.

For those attending the meeting, the address is 1253 Westshore Drive (Lot 4-B), Ridgeway.

In other business Monday, council members postponed third reading of an ordinance authorizing a lease agreement between the county and the Community Health Foundation of Fairfield County.

According to a draft ordinance, the foundation would lease some of the former Fairfield Memorial Hospital property from Fairfield County. The county purchased several parcels in 2018.

County Attorney Tommy Morgan said the foundation contacted the county a few hours before Monday’s vote, saying they’d like to include additional provisions in the lease agreement.

Morgan said delaying the vote would give council members more time to review the foundation’s proposed changes.

Provided both sides agree to proposed changes, the lease agreement could come back to the council for a vote later this month.


  1. Gwen Harden says

    I hope that house meets ADA regulations and homeowners’ insurance covers a public meeting being held there. Parking available for 40 cars or more? I’ve attended these public meetings before and find it terribly rude that they eat lunch during the meeting. I thought we were headed into a land of transparency but apparently not. Mr. Pauley is correct. Why not feature that beautiful county building in the industrial park or one of the new community centers

  2. Patti wilkes says

    Thank you, Doug Pauley! My concern is that the mentality is that since the money wasn’t used for something else, we need to spend it on this. How about put it back into the budget?? There are too many local places available for meetings to have this three night minimum house rented.

  3. Ernie Cooper says

    Is this meeting going to last for three days? I will encourage everyone that lives here to attend this meeting and express our concerns of the misuse of tax payer dollars.

  4. Dot Rogers says

    ANOTHER waste and misuse of our tax dollars !!! WHY do some of these folks have such an “entitlement” mentality when it comes to perks for themselves ? This is not funding from a private business !! This is government and taxpayers pay for this out of our pockets. All of these council members live in Fairfield County – why go overnight anywhere for a public meeting ? This location will also deter citizen participation. Why not use the county facilities that we ALREADY pay for ? This is outrageous !

  5. I’ll bet there is something in the AirBNB Conditions that prohibits a rental’s being used for public business. Did the owner understand that the house would be open to the public? The owner is probably having a heart attack about now, worried about what might disappear from his home. Will the Council be responsible to the owner for any missing items? If an observer shows up armed, is there any reason he could not attend? It’s probably not “posted”, but the gun-owner would not have the owner’s permission to be there armed. Some would say that’s “only” trespassing. Will any member of the Council be armed? Will the audience be informed? How absurd to blow $900 for a 3-day rental for a 4-hour meeting!!!

  6. Eric Dorsey says

    $900 and the residents of Fairfield County have a problem with it? Your public servants who take time away from their families to serve you don’t deserve it? Comical

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