Trotter resigns, reconsiders

By Nicole Guttermuth

Courier Staff

COUNTY — In a surprise ending to what appeared to be a business-as-usual School District of Pickens County board of trustees meeting on Monday night, Liberty-area representative Ben Trotter announced his resignation from the board.

       By the next morning, however, Trotter had changed his mind and decided to finish out what is left of his term, which is roughly one year.

“I’ve had about 133 calls this morning from people asking me not to resign,” said Trotter. “I reckon if it is that important to people, I can go through another year of hell on the board. There are other people who’ve been through a lot worse. I’m not going to say anything bad about the board or the district; we just don’t see eye-to-eye on a lot of things.”

Trotter’s decision to resign came following a 3-2 vote to adopt the FY 2014 Student Nutrition Services (SNS) budget.

Prior to the vote, Trotter said that he neither could nor would vote for a budget that included hiring a culinary specialist with a maximum possible salary of $63,000 per year, in addition to a benefits package worth approximately $15,000, when there are currently cafeteria workers throughout the SDPC who have not received even a cost-of-living raise in several years.

Right before the meeting adjourned for the evening, Trotter announced that he would take his letter of resignation to the registration and election commission.

“As of 10 minutes from now, I will officially resign from this board and take my registration to the (Pickens County) Election Commission,” Trotter told the crowd in attendance at the meeting. “I don’t feel I’m doing any good representing anything, and certainly not looking out for the little people. This is something I’ve got to do, and it doesn’t reflect bad on anybody.”

Trotter said he had not accomplished what he set out to do as a board trustee.

“I ran for this board so I could be here to help people — the people who don’t always have a voice,” said Trotter. “I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished that. I don’t feel like I’m getting anything done sitting up here.”

SDPC spokesman John Eby said Trotter’s resignation was a surprise to the district.

“We appreciate his service and wish him well in the future,” Eby said.

Board trustees Alex Saitta and Jim Shelton were also surprised by Trotter’s announcement.

“I’m very disappointed,” Saitta said. “He is conservative. I hate to see him go.”

“Ben’s resignation came as a complete surprise,” said Shelton. “I wish him well.”

The proverbial straw to break the camel’s back was the adoption of the SNS budget, which included what Trotter deems an exorbitantly salaried position for one new employee when there are many existing employees who have received neither a raise nor a financial bonus of any type.

“We just voted to give someone a heck of a good salary over what others earn working in that department who can’t pay their car payments,” Trotter said.

“Alex Saitta has said for years that we need to cut administrative salaries so we can hire teachers in the district, but he voted to hire this one person,” said Trotter. “I know several people who work in our district’s cafeterias. They are hard workers and they are barely getting by on the minimum wage salaries they earn.”

When Trotter announced his resignation at the close of Monday night’s meeting, he had simply reached the point of frustration.

“I guess I just get tired of feeling like I am beating my head against a wall and getting nowhere,” he said. “If I am going to be on this board for another year, I’m going to do everything I can to see if we can’t find some money somewhere to at least give these people a bonus for the work they do.”

Despite his surprising announcement Monday night, Trotter has rescinded his resignation and will complete his term with the SDPC.

However, Trotter is adamant that he has no intention of seeking reelection to the SDPC board of trustees once his term is complete.