County Commissioner’s Meeting Discusses Employee Spending Abuses and Road Maintenance

Published 10:04 am Thursday, August 17, 2023

Ethan Wolfe addressed the board, asking for recorded meetings and agenda packets to be put online.
“What is the difference between a politician and an elected official? For me, it deals with transparency.”
Afterwards, the CEO of Phebe Sumter, Carlyle Walton, gave a report on the initiatives that had been accomplished over the last eleven months. Mr. Walton stated that the number of beds had was increased, a second CT scanner had been added, and in May of this year robotic surgery had was added. He mentioned that Phebe Sumter is a 501c3 and that there is a statewide program where tax liability can be approved as a contribution to the hospital.
He reported that over the last eleven months over 333 million dollars had been billed and that 98 million had been received in payments, making a total of 223 million in uncompensated care provided. He reported the total operating expenses at $93,445,613 and the operating income of $45,094,153. Mr. Walton also stated that their hospice program had received the top national award of Hospice Elite. He also addressed complaints about emergency room wait times, stating that five percent of people leave without being seen. A new RAMP program was instituted in response to reduce wait times.
Will Peterson, a representative for OneDigital, brought more information about their payroll outsourcing.
Mark Tory with Fleet Management gave a report on the county’s vehicles. He stated concerns about the average age of government vehicles and the increased gas and maintenance costs this would likely incur. He stated that there were 64 vehicles with between 100,000 and 150,000 miles as well as 43 with over 150,0000 miles. He also discussed difficulties in acquiring new vehicles, especially police vehicles.
Public Works Director, Jim Littlefield, updated the council members on the state of road maintenance. Council member Jim Reid expressed concerns over insufficient mowing, stating that privet hedge and tall weeds were choking the roadside, causing hazards. He suggested herbicide use and that more mowers would be helpful. Mr. Littlefield mentioned herbicide was one option, but that the contract may require express permission for its use. Mr. Littlefield made the case that it was a bad time to rebid due to high prices. He was currently talking with the contractor to resolve the issue.
Council member Mark Wadell asked how many cycles the tractors ran. Mr. Littlefield answered that it was a minimum of two and a maximum of four, with four this year. Mr. Wadell expressed his concerns over poor mowing.
“Deer can step out of that pigweed and step right in front of folks.”
Mr. Littlefield planned on making the concerns known.
Mr. Littlefield also reported that a bridge over muckalee creek and a bridge over wolf creek were posted with weight limits making them unusable by timber trucks. Mr. Littlefield added that several bridges needed to be replaced at some point.
Tim Estes discussed the Improving Neighborhood Outcomes Grant for Rock Hill Park. The grant is for a total of $253,000. Contingency funds were applied for and approved to the amount of 1.43 million. Time Estes stated that these funds would still require approval for use. An initial park plan was drafted with quotes amounting to $340,683. A cheaper version was drafted at $290,443. Mr. Estes initially had doubts that the first plan would meet approval for sufficient contingency funds, but recently learned that a colleague had a similar plan approved more than $100,000 over the initial grant total. He mentioned that if the first plan was not approved, it would cause a delay of four to six weeks. The higher cost plan was approved for submission.
The board approved the name change of Eaton Road to Larry Comer Drive and a nearby private road to Signify St.
Council member Jim Ried addressed the board before it went into executive session.
“We need a policy covering the employee conference and training attendance.”
“How do we go about setting guidelines on who can go to conferences, their expense account, what they can pay for a room, how do we go about that? I don’t expect it to be solved tonight, but I think it needs to be discussed.”
He gave an example of employee conference fund expenditures.
“The conference starts on Wednesday, we had three employees travel on Monday, and there was nothing to do on Tuesday.”
He mentioned that one employee had paid excessive room rates.