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Special council meeting held with first reading of budget approval

The Loris city council met on Thursday, July 11, at 6 p.m. at the American Legion Hall after the public hearing on the 2019-20 budget.

Present at the meeting were Mayor Todd Harrelson, Council Members Joan Gause, Lewis Hardee, Mike Suggs and Jan Vescovi; Terrence Hardee was absent. Department heads present were Brandon Harrelson, Chief Gary Buley, Tom Cocke, Kenneth Moss and Kenya Wright.

Mayor Harrelson asked Gause to give the invocation and lead the pledge of allegiance. In Gause’s prayer she asked for the Lord to guide the council in their leadership and their leadership skills.

Harrelson asked for the minutes of the Budget Retreat held on Saturday, May 18, to be approved. The motion was unanimously approved. He also asked for the minutes of the Budget Retreat Follow-up held on Thursday, June 20, to be approved; council approved unanimously.

Harrelson reports that the city is researching software to update the options and what items will be available online in the city’s website. At this time meeting minutes and the budget are online and available for the public to view. He said, “We are trying to get everything on there so that we can be as transparent as can be so you can go on our website and see what you need to see.”  He stated that the present software is not allowing across the departments to report business.

He stated that councilwoman Jan Vescovi just recently lost her mother and asked to keep Jan and her family in prayer.

The first business is the second reading of ordinance 04-19. Wright read the ordinance aloud, an ordinance to adopt the existing budget as a stop-gap measure until a budget for the 2019-20 is created and approved. Council approved unanimously.

Harrelson requested the first reading of ordinance number 05-19. Wright read aloud the ordinance to adopt a budget for the city of Loris, South Carolina, for the fiscal year 2019-20 ending June 30, 2020. She read, “Whereas the provisions of the laws of the state of South Carolina Code require that the municipal council should act by ordinance to adopt budgets and levy taxes pursuant to public notice.”  The ordinance reads:  Now, therefore, be it ordained by the Governing Body of the City, in council duly assembled and by the authority of the same. Section 1 of Loris, SC. That the prepared budget and the estimated revenue for the payment of same is hereby adopted and hereby made a part hereof as fully as if incorporated herein and a copy thereof is attached.

Harrelson asked for a motion to approve the first reading of the ordinance. The vote was not unanimous, Suggs voted nay. When asked why he voted no, he stated that he is not in favor of a raise for council and the mayor. The first reading was approved.

When asked if the press or public had any comments, Kimberly Rudelitch approached council asking about the software. She asked, “You mentioned at the beginning of this meeting that you are going to look at updates to the software, what kind of software are you looking at updating?”   Wright responded that the city currently uses the program Nicholson Software. She said, “It does not allow for each department to universally present reports;” she continued, “Court has their own software, code enforcement has their own program, recreation has their own program, payroll has their own program.”  Wright said, “We have several different programs and this program (Nicholson) does not allow everything to be done in one program. We would like to see one program that everybody can use so that things would not need to be input ten different times.”  Rudelitch asked if she had contacted the support staff for the current software to be able to utilize the software across the board. Wright stated she had been in contact with Nicholson and that they are not willing to produce a program. She stated that they do not offer programs for code enforcement and recreation and they do not wish to build the software on the site. Rudelitch stated, “So that everybody knows, we just spent about $25,000 on that software about two years ago.”  Wright and Harrelson stated it was 2016 when the software was purchased. Rudelitch stated it was late 2016 and it was supposed to be active as of spring of 2017, but it was only partially set up from the information I received. She then asked council if they would consider moving the time back to 7 p.m. in the future. Harrelson responded, “Well, we voted on it, so I guess it could be considered, but right now it will remain at 6 p.m. unless otherwise voted.”

Rudelitch said, “I just want council to be aware that last Tuesday, (no date provided) I went to city hall to review bank statements, I asked to see six months of bank statements, and I have not heard back from Miss Wright yet.”  Harrelson responded that he had spoken with the city attorney, Kenneth Moss; he said he believes he did try to call Rudelitch, however did not receive a call back from her. Harrelson said, “We were under the understanding that you were going to call him and ya’ll were going to discuss what exactly you do need.”    Rudelitch stated that she does not need to discuss bank statements and that should be kept in a uniform manner at city hall. Harrelson said they will follow up on her requests.

One member of the press asked what the status of the city administrator is, if they have advertised the availability of the position. Harrelson responded there has been discussion regarding filling the position. Also asked was the salary for the administrator that is not being used, what will happen to those monies. The response was, “We hope to have one soon.” said Harrelson. A resident requested a copy of the proposed budget, whereas Wright responded that she can make a copy available to him at city hall and they will provide them a copy. Wright also said that a copy of the budget is available on the city’s website in the council packet for the night’s meeting. www.lorissc.com, government tab.

Harrelson stated that he had spoken with attorney Moss regarding a contractual new interim city administrator, and requested to go into executive session. After a 15 minute session the mayor and council returned stating no decision was made in executive session and the meeting was adjourned at 6:39 p.m.

The next special council meeting will be held at the American Legion Hall on Thursday, July 26, at 6 p.m. for the second reading of the ordinance 04-19 for the 2019-20 budget.

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