Voters in Union County are a step closer to getting the opportunity to decide whether or not to retain the current form of county government.
Union County Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve second reading of an ordinance that would give voters the opportunity to choose between retaining the current council-supervisor form of government or changing it to the council-administrator system.
The change was proposed by businessman and Union County School Board member Manning Jeter who pointed out that only four of South Carolina’s 46 counties still have the council-supervisor system of government. Jeter said he felt the current system has failed to promote the kind of economic development the county needs to attract the kind of industries that will generate the revenues the county needs and create the kind of good paying jobs that will enable its young people to stay after they graduate from college.
In calling for the county to change its form of government, Jeter said county council should function as chief executive officer overseeing a professional administrator who would handle the day-to-day operations of county government. He said such a system would be more effective at recruiting industry and finding new sources of revenue that would enable the county to grow as it needs to.
Under the council-supervisor form of government, the supervisor, is both administrator responsible for the day-to-day operations of county government and an elected official, although elected at-large while the members of council are elected by district. Under the council-administrator system, there is an administrator appointed by and responsible to council who is handles the day-to-day operations of county government. The supervisor is replaced by a seventh member of council who, like the supervisor, is elected at-large and serves as council chairman but does not handle the county government’s day-to-day operations.
A public hearing and a third and final reading of the ordinance must be held before the ordinance becomes law. These will be held during the next meeting of Union County Council on June 26. Once it is passed, the ordinance must then be given pre-clearance by the US Justice Department before the referendum is held.