Council to look at recreational funding accounts

Rocky Nimmons/Courier
Judge Karen Roper swears in newly elected Pickens County Council members, from left, Carl Hudson, Chris Bowers, Roy Costner and Wes Hendricks in council chambers last week.

By Jason Evans
Staff Reporter

COUNTY — Newly elected Pickens County councilman Roy Costner was been elected council chairman last week.

County council held an organizational meeting Wednesday evening. The new county council members were sworn in on Tuesday, Jan. 3.

County attorney Ken Roper opened the meeting and explained the nomination and election process to the council members.

Costner and councilman Ensley Feemster were nominated for chairman. Costner won the election 4-2.

Roper then handed the gavel over to Costner, who presided over the rest of the meeting.

“This will become second nature to you soon,” Roper told Costner.

Council then elected members to serve as vice chair and vice chair pro tem.

Councilman Chris Bowers and councilman Trey Whitehurst were nominated for vice chair. Whitehurst declined the nomination, saying his schedule would not allow him to serve in that capacity.

Councilman Wes Hendricks was nominated to serve as vice chair pro tem.

Councilman Carl Hudson then made a motion addressing the county’s recreation fund accounts. He said there had been a lot of talk in the community regarding those accounts, particularly the transfer of funds out of recreation committees.

He made a motion instructing county staff to research the county’s recreation funds “and fully brief the county council on recreation accounts.”

Until that report is delivered, he moved that “no recreational funding request be processed any further.”

Whitehurst was concerned about the motion’s impact on current recreation projects and any situations that may occur between now and when the report is delivered.

“You want to put everything on hold,” Whitehurst said.

“We’re not talking about a long period of time,” Hudson said.

Whitehurst said each council member oversees a certain amount of money allocated for recreation and tourism in their districts and directs funding requests to the finance director.

“The council or chairman can’t overrule what someone spends on recreation,” Whitehurst said.

Whitehurst said any rumor that recreation funding is being used for ethical violations “is garbage.”

He said district recreational funding can build up over time, allowing for larger expenditures toward large capital projects.

“You can save the money up for a larger project,” Whitehurst said.

He said recreational funding account information is readily available to the public.

“This isn’t something anyone’s trying to hide,” he said. “It is all out there. This is not some secret, underminded slush fund where people are spending money to ingratiate themselves.”

Hudson said he thought council could be brought up to speed on the issue quickly, perhaps at the council’s upcoming retreat.

“I think we’ll address this pretty quickly,” he said.

Costner said he also wanted to look at the issue.

The motion passed 4-2, with Whitehurst and Feemster opposing.

Costner suggested holding the council’s retreat this Saturday at the Pickens County Airport.

The threat of inclement weather prevented the retreat from being held earlier, he said.

Costner said he saw no need to change the council’s regular meeting schedule.