GREENWOOD — County Council member Steve Brown made public Tuesday night his concern about the procedure through which council members’ pay was increased in 2008.
Brown, who was elected in November 2012 and took office earlier this year, said during council’s regular meeting that county human resources office personnel told him that his salary would be $8,240 annually.
He said he remembered reading in the Greenwood County Code of Ordinances that council members’ salaries were set at $8,000 each, while the council chairman received an additional $1,000 for a total of $9,000. The council chairman is currently paid $11,000 per year.
Brown said he asked if the salaries of council members had been adjusted and was told by staff that they had been changed. He asked for a copy of the ordinance reflecting the change and was told there was “no specific individual ordinance” adopted.
He said he was told that the salary increases were included in the July 2008-June 2009 budget ordinance and council members were awarded a 3 percent cost-of-living raise, as were county employees.
“I was also told that County Council did not receive the new salaries until January 1, 2009,” Brown said. “Some staff members have intimated to me that they believe the salary adjustment complies with South Carolina Code of Laws Section 4-9-100.” That section of the law reads, “Council may by ordinance adjust the salary, but the ordinance changing the salary is not effective until the date of commencement of terms of at least two members of council elected at the next general election following the enactment of the ordinance affecting the salary charges at which it will become effective for all members.”
Brown said that while he is not a judge or attorney, “I am concerned that the procedure used to set our salaries may not meet the letter of the law.”
He said he was not suggesting or accusing any council member of doing anything improper.
“Since I am now part of this County Council, and I am being paid a salary was described above, I ask that you join with me to clarify this matter,” Brown said. “If we have a problem with the procedure used to fix our salaries, let’s be diligent in addressing the issue immediately.”
Council Chairman Mark Allison thanked Brown for bringing the irregularity to light. “We will look into this matter to make sure we’re in compliance with the letter of the law,” Allison said.
Council took no action concerning the issue.
In other business, council unanimously approved a proclamation recognizing the accomplishments of the late Dr. Benjamin E. Mays.
“People in Greenwood, his hometown, really have very little idea of the reverence felt across this nation for Dr. Mays,” said Loy Sartin, curator of the Mays Historic Preservation Site.
Mays, son of former slaves who was born in 1894 and grew up in the Epworth community, was the president of Morehouse College for 27 years.
He was an adviser to multiple U.S. presidents and was a trusted mentor to Martin Luther King Jr. Mays delivered the eulogy at King’s funeral.
Mays, a noted orator and scholar, was the first black president of the Atlanta School Board. He authored eight books, spoke at more than 800 colleges and universities, wrote more than 200 magazine articles and received 56 honorary degrees from various colleges, including one awarded posthumously by Columbia University.
Sartin said he is hopeful that Mays will be inducted into the Greenwood Hall of Fame and that there is a move to have the Presidential Medal of Freedom awarded to Mays.
Also, council approved third and final reading of changes to the ordinance pertaining to appearances, presentations, public comments and petitions. The amendment is intended to allow a person or people the privilege to speak on matters appearing on the County Council agenda.
Council also approved second reading of an ordinance to rezone property on Montague Street Extension from R-1 (Single Family Residential) to C-2 (General Commercial) and an ordinance amending the parking standard for outdoor retail (permanent).
A resolution was passed unanimously by council that designates April 2013 as Fair Housing Month in Greenwood County.
Council met in executive session for more than an hour, but no action was taken.