A new form of government could be in Union County’s future if the voters approve a proposed referendum in November.
Union County Council voted unanimously last Tuesday to approve first reading of an ordinance that would place a referendum on changing government on the November ballot.
Supervisor Tommy Sinclair said the referendum would give voters the choice of either retaining the current council-supervisor form of government or change it to the council-administrator system. Under both systems, county council is composed of six council members each elected from single member district. In both systems there is a seventh member of council elected at-large. Under the council-supervisor form of government the seventh member of the council is the supervisor who also oversees the day-to-day operations of county government. Under the council-administrator form, the seventh member is the council chairman who does not oversee the day-to-day operations of county government. Those duties are instead handled by an administrator hired by and responsible to county council.
The change was proposed by businessman and Union County School Board member Manning Jeter who said Monday the current system of county government has failed to effectively promote economic development and opportunity for the people of Union County, especially young people.
“You have only four counties in South Carolina that are still working the form of government that we have,” Jeter said. “Those four counties are the poorest four counties in South Carolina. We have failed to bring in industry, we have failed to bring in new revenue. Our young people graduate from high school, go off to college and when they graduate there is nothing for them to do in Union as far as getting a good job.
“I would like to see the people we elect to office to be the CEO and boss of the person that handles things in Union County,” he said. “That way we can start seeking out other revenues, seeking out industry to help Union move forward and to grow and not continue to go backwards.”
Two more readings of the ordinance and a public hearing are required before the referendum can be placed on the ballot. In addition, Sinclair any changes in county government must receive “pre-clearance” from the US Justice Department.