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Monday, July 27, 2009

Are Lee County Taxpayers getting the most Bang for the Buck?

At least two Lee County Council member's have different opinion's as to the benefit derived from the county’s membership in the Central SC Alliance.

Council Chairman Arthur Beasley, in explaining why the decision was made to drop the alliance’s $72, 000 annual membership fees this year, cited the tight budget the county is presently facing. Notwithstanding county's decision, the Chairman believes that council maintains a good relationship with Central SC Alliance and hopes Lee County can rejoin when conditions improve.

On the other hand, Beasley’s opinion is in direction opposition to at least one other council member. Travis Windham, a local independent insurance agent and council member, does not believe the alliance has done enough to warrant Lee County’s continued membership and feels Lee County taxpayer's are not getting their money’s worth.

It is clear that Councilman Windham believes the county has actually suffered under inadequate promotion by Central SC Alliance, recalling only one new investment the alliance was responsible for in six years. Windham suggests the county look outside of the alliance for the recruitment of investments.

Central SC Alliance was founded in 1994 and is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit public/private partnership which engages in the recruitment of capital investment and job creation in the Central region of South Carolina. Members from the Public sector include the City of Columbia, Clarendon, Lee, Newberry, Saluda, USC, Fairfield, Lexington, Orangeburg, Sumter, Calhoun, Kershaw, McCormick and Richland.

County taxpayers have to ask this question: Has the county received the bang for its buck with only one return on the books from a yearly $72,000 investment by the taxpayers in a six year span?

If his information is accurate it appears Councilman Windham may be 'right on' in his assessment. With a $1 million shortfall being realized in the latest county budget, gambling with taxpayer money by investing in a non-producer is not the answer. County Council would be well advised to revisit some revenue creating development projects it has cast aside in recent years.

By the way, Saluda County, citing a similar budget shortfall, has also dropped its membership. Link

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