County Council takes $285K from fund balance to cover earmarks

Council Budgeted More for Itself Than for Economic Development

WINNSBORO – Fairfield County Council members authorized $285,000 in last minute spending as part of the $41.3 million budget approved Monday night, raiding what Council Chair Moses Bell has frequently called “the depleted fund balance” to do so.

The majority five council members also declined taking a modest pay cut despite asking other departments to trim expenses.

The budget passed 5-2, with council members Doug Pauley and Clarence Gilbert opposing.

The budget doesn’t increase general fund millage as county staff had initially said was an option.

The budget does, however, include a series of fee increases to public works, parks and recreation, and other departments. It also includes a 0.5-mill increase to the county library fund, down from the full mill of tax initially proposed.

$400 an hour

Monday night’s budget vote marks the culmination of a disjointed process that’s seen council members spar over spending priorities and at least two budget meetings failing to stream online due to apparent technical glitches.

Monday night followed a similar refrain, with council members clashing over whether or not to trim their individual pay by $5,000.

The motion by Gilbert to cut council pay failed 5-2. Council members Shirley Greene, Tim Roseborough, Neil Robinson, Michael Trapp and Bell all opposed taking a pay cut.

The same five council members voted to budget nearly $361,000 for council in 2022-2023, according to the budget ordinance.

That’s $100,000 more than council actually spent in FY 2021 and a $30,000 increase over the FY 2022 budgeted amount.

The majority 5 have voted to budget more for themselves in the FY 2023 budget than for economic development ($344,000), Human Resources ($315,000) or vehicle maintenance ($340,000).

Council Pay Exceeds Others

Councilman Pauley noted that Abbeville, Bamberg, McMormick and many other S.C. Counties with 25,000 or fewer residents pay their council members considerably less than Fairfield.

“We [have] the highest paid council members out of all the other counties,” Pauley said. “When you take $15,000 a year and divide it by 12 months, you’re looking at $1,250 a month per council member. When you look at three hours [of council meetings] a month, you’re looking at $400 an hour.”

Bell as chair of council receives an additional supplement of $4,800 over what the other council members receive for a total of almost $20,000 annually. Greene, as council vice chair, receives an additional supplement of $3,000 over what the other council members receive.

Plus reimbursements

In addition, Greene took home another $4,119.16 in reimbursements that included mileage reimbursements for such things as driving to council meetings and driving to a food distribution facility.

Bell took home another $3,338.57 in reimbursements as well.

Greene’s, Bell’s, Trapp’s, Robinson’s and Roseborough’s reimbursements will be detailed in next week‘s edition of The Voice.

Councilmen Douglas Pauley and Clarence Gilbert did not seek reimbursements of their council-related expenses.

“That’s what we get the $15,000 for,” Gilbert said.

Gilbert initially suggested cutting salaries at a work session last week, reasoning that other county departments were being asked to make sacrifices. But his suggestion failed to gain support.

“Accoring to, I think, state law, if salaries are reduced they won’t go into effect until next budget year,” said Councilman Mikel Trapp, who said last council meeting that he thought it would be illegal to reduce their council salaries. “I don’t see how that would relate to this budget coming up.”

Pauley said that’s not true.

Citing the S.C. Association of Counties, Pauley said reducing council salaries is legal provided the cuts take effect in January.

Bell Deflects Blame        

Other council members still resisted trimming their pay.

Council Chairman Moses Bell, without offering any evidence, accused Pauley and Gilbert of having ulterior motives.

“Fairfield County Council salaries have been $15,000 since 1998,” Bell said. “It’s been good for the previous council for 24 years, but now it’s not good for this council. So what is the issue here? There’s something else afoot.”

This isn’t the first time council members have advocated for budgetary matters benefitting themselves.

A year ago, as council mulled the 2021-2022 budget, Councilwoman Greene complained when Councilman Pauley questioned spending taxpayer money on a summer conference at a four-star seaside resort in Hilton Head.

“I have not voted to take a luxury trip,” Greene said at an April 2021 council meeting. “I need to go someplace because I’ve not had training at all for this council.”

At the time, the same courses at the Hilton Head conference were also offered online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the majority of council members voted to travel anyway.

Back to the fund balance

Council members approved a slew of other last-minute spending measures totaling $285,000.

Per Councilman Trapp’s motion, each of the earmarks comes from the fund balance. Each motion passed 5-2, with Pauley and Gilbert opposing.

Those measures included:

  • 1 Detention Center employee | $55,000
  • 1 Detention Center Deputy Director | $90,000
  • 1 Full-Time Custodian | $50,000
  • Resuming Recycling center operations on Mondays | $75,000
  • County Council newsletter | $15,000

Chairman Bell was among those voting to tap the fund balance despite complaining two months ago about the practice. 

At a March council meeting, Bell railed that the fund balance was “depleted for all purposes,” without elaborating further.

“People can say what they want, but they spend the money,” Bell said in March, not specifying who “they” includes. “You can’t spend more money than you have. People can say stuff, and make up stuff, and create stuff, but those are the facts.”


  1. Buck says

    In previous years the council took 3 million or more out of the fund balance. A contract for 250k was signed by Taylor for the Joint Water and Sewer on Dec 20th. The Joint Water and Sewer has met 1-2 times since. Please cover the towns budget and increases as well.

  2. Windy Winchester says

    Wake up fairfield county council is cutting budget for everything but them it’s time we cut them 100% and permanently it’s time for CHANGE

  3. Jeff Schaffer says

    That loud POP you just heard was another head coming out of their REAR. (bottom) You would have to be the dumbest human on the planet or the only one who understands English. We have 5 council members who are bleeding this county dry, NO SERVICES, NO FUTURE EMPLOYMENT COMPANIES. Out-of-control fools who will not admit to anything being wrong except the previous council, they obviously are to blame for everything. Its Trump syndrome magnified doz times over, BLM turned out to be a nice way to raise awareness and money. What has it accomplished? Now ask your self are you happy with our current council? if the answer is Yes you then must be happy with Mr. Biden No action opened the border highest inflation and scandal after scandal helping no one but himself sounds familiar.?

Speak Your Mind