Council abruptly reduces county administrator’s employment to 5 months

Bell, Greene, Roseborough vote in favor to make it happen

WINNSBORO – Following an executive session Monday night to discuss and receive legal advice regarding the county administrator’s contract, council voted 4 – 3 to renew County Administrator Jason Taylor’s contract, but for only five months.

Taylor

Councilman Mikel Trapp made the motion to renew the contract until June 30, 2021, end of the fiscal year. Councilwoman Shirley Greene seconded the motion.

“I think we need to give Mr. Taylor a longer time – a year,” Councilman Douglas Pauley said. “Mr. Taylor has done a great job, and we’ve been moving Fairfield County forward, so I would like to see it at least for a year.”

“I have to agree Mr. Pauley,” Councilman Neil Robinson said. “We should at least give him a year for evaluation if that’s what the new council members want.”

“As a new council person, I think that basically, we’ve got to have a chance to work with Mr. Taylor,” Greene said. “We’ve taken a look at some of the legal ramifications and some of the legal points have been made, and giving us the chance to work with Mr. Taylor and to be able to evaluate him the way it should be done, and having some relationship with him and his work is basically what I see as a new council person.”

Green, Council Chair Moses Bell, Trapp and new councilman Tim Roseborough voted ‘for’ the five-months of employment. Councilman Clarence Gilbert, Pauley and Robinson voted ‘against.’

A source told The Voice that the terms of the extension of the contract were not discussed with Gilbert, Pauley and Robinson in executive session, rather Bell asked the attorney to review Taylor’s previous evaluation, but nothing was discussed or disclosed regarding extending his contract or limiting his employment, the source said.

“It was a surprise to the three of us when Mr. Trapp made the motion to renew the contract for only five months,” Robinson said.

Rumors had been circulating through the county for the last week that Taylor would be placed on administrative leave Monday night, but that rumor did not materialize.

When The Voice asked Bell for a comment following the vote, he said, “No comoment,” several times before walking away.

“I’m totally disappointed in this,” Gilbert told The Voice following the meeting. “Mr. Taylor has done so much for this county. He’s the ultimate professional, easy to work with, honest. He has such vision for our county. Why would we want to turn back our progress at this point? I would hate to think it’s a personal vendetta. But it was planned. There was no substantive discussion about it,” he said.

Taylor was hired in May, 2016, with a contract for $120,000 each year for a three-year term.

In July, 2018, council voted unanimously to extend Taylor’s contract for another year and also voted to increase the period of compensation for Taylor in the event of termination without cause to two years. Council members also approved a 3.44 percent pay raise, increasing Taylor’s salary from $123,997.60 to $129,297.52.

Billy Smith, council chair at that time, praised Taylor’s performance, saying, “Jason, I think you’re doing a great job.”

Taylor came to Fairfield County from Jasper County, where he was previously the town administrator for Ridgeland since 2002.

He also spent eight years with the S.C. Department of Social Services and four years as Saluda County’s economic development director.

County Council Chairman Neil Robinson recently credited Taylor for guiding the council’s directives to fruition over the last four years.

“While much was accomplished in 2019 in Fairfield County,” Robinson was quoted in an end of year story in The Voice, “despite the ensuing pandemic and all the associated challenges, 2020 was a phenomenal year in Fairfield County for economic development, jobs, infrastructure and a laundry list of other accomplishments.

Praising Taylor for his work to turn the county around, Robinson said, “His vision and knowledge of where we should be and how we get there surprises me every day. In the last four years we’ve brought more than 1,000 jobs, six new industries and $70 million in investment. We’ve accomplished more this year and last year than we have in the previous ten.”

This story which first appeared online on Tuesday, Jan. 26, has been updated.

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