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Anderson County, South Carolina

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Transparency grading process

Anderson County is one of 46 counties in South Carolina. In 2000, its population was 173,500; in 2005, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that its population had reached 175,514. Its county seat is Anderson, South Carolina.

Named for Revolutionary War leader Robert Anderson, the county is located in northwestern South Carolina, along the Georgia border. Anderson County contains 55,950-acre Lake Hartwell, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lake with nearly 1,000 miles of shoreline for residential and recreational use. The area is a growing industrial, commercial and tourist center.


Website evaluation

Main article: Evaluation of South Carolina county websites

This Web site was reviewed Dec 9, 2012.

The good

  • Elected Officials
    • Elected officials are listed with a mailing address, phone number and personalized email.[1]
  • Budget
    • The most current budget is listed.
    • Budgets are archived for 6 years.[2]
  • Audits
    • The most recent audit is posted.
    • Audits dating back to 2004 are available.[3]
  • Permits and zoning
    • Zoning ordinances are posted online.[4]
    • Permit applications can be downloaded on the site, along with information on how to apply for the permits.[5]
  • Administrative officials[6]
    • Department heads are listed for each department.
    • Contact information for administrative officials is provided including a mailing address and phone number.
  • Contracts
    • Bids and RFPs are posted online.
    • Approved contract statements are provided for vendors.[7]
  • Taxes
    • Tax revenues are broken down by federal, state, and local funding in the budget.
    • Local taxes, like property taxes, are available online.
    • Residents are able to pay taxes online.[8][9]
  • Public records
    • The public information officer is identified and maintained by the Anderson County Public Information Officer position. This person provides a mailing address, phone number and personalized email.
    • A public records form is provided by the Anderson County Public Information Officer.
    • A fee schedule for documents is provided.[10]
  • * Lobbying
    • Anderson County discloses it is not a member of any lobbying associations at this time.
    • The County discloses that it does not employ lobbyists at this time.
    • The total amount spent on lobbying is posted on activities from 2002 to 2008.[11]
  • Meetings
    • Meeting minutes are archived for 8 years.[12]
    • A meeting calendar is available and names the times and locations of public meetings.

The bad

  • Meetings
    • Meeting agendas are archived for only 1 year.[13]
    • Meeting video or podcasts are not available.
  • Administrative officials
    • Personalized emails are not available. A contact form is provided.[14]

Website upgrade

The County updated its website in June of 2009. The website took additional steps by posting their checkbook register and credit card accounts.[15] Comptroller Eckstrom has also offered online space for small cities and counties to upgrade their websites by putting this type of information on his own Web site, to remove cost as an obstacle.[16] The town of Irmo and Eckstrom signed up to also get the upgrade.

The county has also entered competing with 15 other counties in the state for best project during the annual South Carolina Association of Counties conference.

"Anderson County is looking back to our roots: a government of the people, by the people, for the people and we want to go a step further and bring it to the people. We want to change the conversation from what it has been --inherent distrust of government since pretty much the beginning of government--to how we can work together." said Angie Stringer, public information director.[17]

In 2011, the Anderson County earned a Sunny Awards for having a perfect website transparency score.


Freedom of Information forum

In March of 2010, Anderson County help a Freedom of Information forum. Interium county administrator Rusty Burns, Jay Bender, attorney for the South Carolina Press Association, Senator Kevin Bryant-R and Sunshine Review's Kristinpedia were on the panel.[18]

Elected Officials

City Council

Anderson County has a Council/Administrator form of government. The Council members are elected to their positions and appoint an Administrator to oversee the progress and vision of the County.[1]

Member Title District
Francis Crowder, Sr. Council Member District 1
Gracie Floyd Council Member District 2
Eddie Moore Vice-Chair District 3
Tom Allen Council Member District 4
Tommy Dunn Chairman District 5
Ken Waters Council Member District 6
M. Cindy Wilson Council Member District 7

Administrative Officials

The roles of the County Administrator are listed as:[19]

  • Serves as chief administrative officer for the County
  • Executes the policies, directives, and legislative actions of the County Council
  • Directs and coordinates the operations of the County
  • Prepares annual operating and annual budgets for the Council
  • Requires such reports, estimates, and statistics from County departments and agencies
  • Supervises expenditures of appropriated funds
  • Prepares financial and administrative reports for the Council
  • Administers County personnel policies, including salary and classification plans approved by Council
  • Employs and discharges County personnel, subject to Council appropriation of funds for that purpose
  • Performs other duties as required by Council

Budget

The 2010 budget went through an additional round of public meetings and functioned off the 2009 budget until the new budget was finally approved during its third reading on July 20, 2010.[20] The final budget is being compiled and prepared for print and for submission to the GFOA for the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award. In October the final budget was posted online.[21]

Lobbying

Main article:South Carolina government sector lobbying

Anderson County has reported $706,496 in lobbying expenditures between 2002 and 2008. During that time the received $8 million dollars in federal money and $1.3 million in state funds with most of the money going towards transportation projects.[17] In 2009, the county was no longer employing lobbyists or any lobbying organizations to raise money for the county, but still belongs to the South Carolina Association of Counties, which does engage in government sector lobbying.[17]

Reported lobbying expenditures, 2004-2009[22]
Year Amount spent on lobbying
2009 $20,000
2008 $140,000
2007 $220,000
2006 $160,000
2005 $100,000
2004 $40,000
Lobbying firms hired by Anderson County[11]
Firm Funds
Ferguson Group, LLC $181,345.78
Preston Gates Ellis & Touvelas Meeds LLC $479,649,86
Municipal Prosperity $45,000

Earmarks

Below is a list of earmarks that were granted towards Anderson County.[11]

2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 Total
Federal $1,500,000 - $2,980,500 $1,833,061 $1,447,135 - $300,000 $8,060,696
State - - - - - $500,000 $800,000 $1,300,000

Public records

Anderson County has several lawsuits pending regarding how requests for public records are handled.[23]

Bradshaw v. Anderson County

Erick Bradshaw Sr sued Chairman Eddie Moore in February of 2009 for not responding to a FOIA request within the allotted 30 days. Bradshaw requested 19 items, some of which were delivered in a reasonable time frame. In the FOIA response, Moore said the others would be delivered, but never were.[24] There is debate over whether a number of the items exist, including a list of employees council members wanted terminated.[25][26] A hearing about the case was scheduled for October 2009.[27]

Misstatement in FOIA response

Moore had to issue an apology to council member Gracie Floyd, after her FOI request response said that meeting minutes document didn't exist, when it did.[28] Independent Mail, Moore apologizes to Floyd for misstatement in letter, August 21, 2009, check back for more information.</ref>

Investigation into fraud

Citizens sued in February of 2009, due to the county hiring two investigation firms to looking to wasteful and fraudulent spending.[29]

External links

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Anderson County, Contact, Accessed Dec 7, 2012
  2. Anderson Countym Finance Reports, Accessed: Dec 7 2012
  3. Anderson Countym Finance Reports, Accessed: Dec 7 2012
  4. Anderson County, Planning, Accessed: Dec 9, 2012
  5. Anderson County, Permits, Accessed: Dec 9, 2012
  6. Anderson County, Staff Directory, Accessed: Dec 9, 2012
  7. Anderson County, Contracts and Bidding, Accessed: Dec 9, 2012
  8. Tax assessments
  9. Treasurer
  10. Public records
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Lobbying
  12. Anderson County, Agendas, Accessed Dec 9, 2012
  13. Anderson County, Agendas, Accessed Dec 9, 2012
  14. Anderson County, Staff Directory, Accessed: Dec 9, 2012
  15. Check Register
  16. Independent Mail, Anderson County’s open Web site lauded, June 23, 2009
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 Independent Mail, Openness is Anderson’s message at convention, July 29, 2009
  18. Independent Mail, Freedom of Information forum set in Anderson County, March 11, 2010
  19. [1]
  20. Meeting Minutes, June 21, 2010
  21. 2009-2010 Operating Budget
  22. Open Secrets
  23. Businessman adds lawsuit against Anderson County, Independent Mail, February 23, 2009
  24. Independent Mail, Businessman adds lawsuit against Anderson County, February 23, 2009
  25. Independent Mail, FOIA lawsuit against Anderson County heard, September 3, 2009
  26. Independent Mail, FOI case in Anderson moves forward, March 25, 2009
  27. Independent Mail, Hearing scheduled Wednesday in Bradshaw case, October 26, 2009
  28. Independent Mail, Floyd was told that minutes, approved Tuesday, did not exist, August 19, 2009
  29. Independent Mail, Anderson County Council sued; citizens seek restraining order, February 9, 2009