Its on to Redistricting Plan 4 for County Council

In a meeting that got very contentious at times Tuesday night, Bamberg County Council members voted by a 4-3 margin to scrap Redistricting Plan 2 that had already received a public hearing and was up for a third reading and approve Plan 4 that had not been reviewed by the public in their Jan 3, meeting. In discussing adding Plans 3 and 4 to Tuesday night’s agenda, District 1 Councilman Chris Wilson noted that Plans 3 and 4 were not a part of the public hearing on December 20, and would possibly need to be advertised for 15 days in the newspaper and have a public hearing. District 4 Councilman Clair Guess III, who was not in attendance at Council’s December 20 meeting, stated that Council had done a “great disservice” to the citizens of the County by not allowing Plans 3 and 4 to be reviewed. “To keep plans three and four in the closet was dishonest,” Guess said, in noting that Plan 4 gave the City of Bamberg its “statistical identity” and Plans 1 and 2 “disenfranchised” African American voters. Councilman Chris Wilson noted that Plan 4 did not “make sense” to him the way it splits the town of Bamberg proper. Bamberg County Councilwoman Alzena Robinson noted that she wanted to go on record as opposed to the approval of Plan 4, noted that when the Justice Department “calls me because I’m on their list, I will tell them how I feel, because I don’t want to go across the tracks.”

Council members agreed to ask County Administrator Rose Dobson-Elliott to check with County Attorney Richard Ness to see what needed to be done concerning the new redistricting plan.

Also during the meeting County Finance Director Thomas M. Thomas reported that at the current time the county’s expenses exceed current revenues by $605.000. Thomas noted that he has spoken with several departments about line items that might be targeted for reduction in savings. Thomas reported that total revenue collected through November was $2,756,995 and the county’s total expenses through December were $3,359,007.

Councilman Wilson stated that the finance committee would meet next week to discuss ways to close the “financial gap” in the county’s budget. In the Administrator’s report in discussions of possible reimbursements for various studies funded by the county Administrator Rose Dobson- Elliott noted that proposed county-wide water and sewer projects was not going forward at this time the towns of Olar, Denmark, Ehrhardt and Govan had not submitted the needed information. Dobson-Elliott noted that all the information has been submitted with the data “we have for the county” so far. Several council members said they would speak to their various municipalities in an effort to get things moving forward.