UNION COUNTY — Contracting with an outside firm to perform the county’s external audit; filling a vacancy in the Clerk of Court’s Office; and allocating funding to hire a Finance Director were on the agenda of Thursday’s special meeting of Union County Council.
Thursday’s meeting began with Councilman Ben Ivey, Chairman of the Finance and Administration Committee, making a motion that council approve the committee’s recommendation that the county hire the accounting firm of McAbee, Schwarz & Halliday to perform the county’s annual external audit. Ivey said that a total of eight firms had submitted bids for the contract and that the six members of the committee had scored each firm with five out of the six members rating McAbee, Schwarz & Halliday number one. He said this was based on what the firm was offering the county and the price the county could afford.
In addition, Ivey said that the firm has served as the outside auditor for the Union County School District for a number of years. Ivey said that a number of employees at the Union County Courthouse had previously been employed by the school district and during that time had worked with McAbee, Schwarz & Halliday. He said that those employees said they found the firm easy to work with.
With a second from Councilman David Sinclair, council voted unanimously to approve Ivey’s motion and hire McAbee, Schwarz & Halliday to perform the county’s annual external audit.
Ivey said the company will perform the annual external audit for the next three years beginning with the audit of the 2016-2017 fiscal year that ended June 30.
Union County Clerk of Court Melanie Lawson was the next to address council, asking that it fill a vacancy in the Child Support Division of her office.
Lawson said that, as a member of the staff of the Clerk of Court’s Office, she had served in that position five years ago. She said the workload for that position was already heavy when she held it and that it had only grown heavier in the years since. Lawson said that the position has been vacant since July 3 forcing her and other personnel in the office to take on its responsibilities while also performing their own duties. She said this has often forced them to work through lunch and into the evening past normal operating hours.
“It’s not unusual for those girls to work through lunch because of the workload,” Lawson said. “The girls and I have been working through lunch and some nights working until 6:15 because we’re short a person.”
Council, on a motion from Ivey with a second from Councilman Ralph Tucker, voted unanimously to approve Lawson’s request to fill the vacancy.
Union County Supervisor Frank Hart then addressed council, asking that it allocate funds to hire a Finance Director for the county.
Hart explained that the hiring of a Finance Director for the county had been discussed for many years, adding that he believes Union County is the only county in South Carolina that doesn’t have one.
The salary for a Finance Director like the one the county is proposing to hire ranges from $42,000-70,000 a year. Hart said the salary for the proposed Finance Director would be funded primarily with the allocation for the currently vacant position of Public Works Director. While he feels the county needs a Public Works Director, Hart said the county needs a Finance Director even more. He said that no new funds would be required to hire a Finance Director, existing funds allocated for the Public Works Director and some from a county fuel account would simply have to be shifted.
Hart added that he is hoping to hire a CPA for the position.
Sinclair said he would like to see the county hire a Finance Director who lives in Union County rather than send that money out of the county.
On a motion from Ivey, seconded by Council Member Kacie Petrie, council voted unanimously to allocate funding for a Finance Director.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.