Charleston County, South Carolina

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Transparency grading process

Charleston County is one of 46 counties in South Carolina. As of the 2010 census, its population was 350,209. Its county seat is Charleston. It is the third-most populous county in the state (behind Greenville and Richland counties). Charleston County was created in 1901 by an act of the South Carolina State Legislature. As defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, and used by the U.S. Census Bureau for statistical purposes only, Charleston County is included within the Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville metropolitan area.

Website evaluation

See also: Evaluation of South Carolina county websites


This website was last reviewed on May 7, 2012.

The good

  • County council members are listed with contact and term information.[1]
  • Meeting schedules[2] and minutes are posted.[3]
  • The site has a request form for submitting public records requests.[4]
  • A phone directory is posted,[5] and elected administrative officials are listed with complete contact information.[6] Other contact details are provided on individual department webpages.[7]
  • Tax information is available, and taxes are payable online.[8]
  • Building permits and zoning information are posted.[9]
  • Budgets and audits are posted.[10]
  • Bid opportunities and bid results are posted.[11]

The bad

  • Full contracts are not posted for city procurement agreements, and users must submit personal contact information in order to view bid tabulations.
  • The site does not list memberships in or dues to any government sector lobbying associations.

Budget

The FY 2012 budget contains total revenues and transfers in of $346.9 million, an increase of $12.5 million from the previous fiscal year. The largest increase came from an extra $4.6 million in the Solid Waste Recycling and Disposal User Fee. The County also received an increase of $2.6 million for property taxes and $1.5 million for charges for federal prisoners. Sales tax receipts were expected to increase $2.3 million. State Aid declined by $1.5 million.[12]

FY 2012 expenditures totaled $368.6 million. This was down $5.3 million from the previous fiscal year. The county decreased transfers out of the operating funds by $15.1 million.

Public employees

Elected officials

The County is governed by a nine member County Council. Members are:[1]

Name District Term Expires
Herbert Ravenel Sass, III District 1 December, 2014
Dickie Schweers District 2 December, 2014
J. Elliott Summey District 3 December, 2012
Henry Darby District 4 December, 2012
Teddie E. Pryor, Sr. District 5 December, 2014
A. Victor Rawl District 6 December, 2012
Colleen T. Condon District 7 December, 2012
Anna B. Johnson District 8 December, 2014
Joseph K. Qualey District 9 December, 2014

Administrative officials

The current County Administrator is W. Kurt Taylor. The Administrator is hired by the County Council and serves a the Chief Administrative Officer. The Administrator carries out the day-to-day operations of the County as well as the policies of the County Council.[13]

An administrative organizational chart can be found here.

Salaries

In 2010, the Charleston County Council agreed to post the salaries of employees earning over $50,000 on its website. The Council include the names, positions, and salaries of those employees, but excluded the salaries of elected officials. Council members Vic Rawl and Colleen Condon voted against posting the salary data online.[14]

The information listed 28 employees earning over $100,000 per year. The top five highest salaried employees were:[15]

Name Position 2010 Salary
Michael Allen O'Neal County Administrator (former) $169,950.00
Winfred Kurt Taylor Deputy County Administrator $148,012.80
Keith D. Bustraan Assistant Administrator Finance $144,393.60
James A. Cannon, Jr. Sheriff $143,832.00
Walter L. Smalls Assistant Administrator $136,094.40

Pensions

Employees participate in the South Carolina Retirement System State Retirement Plan. They may also participate in an optional deferred compensation program.[16]

Lobbying

The County does not provide information on taxpayer funded lobbying.

Transparency & public records

A Freedom of Information Act request form can be found here.

Taxes

The FY 2012 budget expected an increase of $2.6 million collected through property taxes, along with an increase of $2.3 million in sales tax collections.[12]

The operating millage for FY 2012 is 40.2 mills. The debt service millage stands at 6.6 mills. The county's Local Option Sales Tax credit is $177.50 for a $250,000 property appraisal. The county also charges a Solid Waste, Recycling and Disposal Fee of $99 per residential property.[12]

News

Shepard Tract land

The Charleston County Council decided to place a deed restriction on the property and put up for sale the 750-acre tract, near U.S. 17 and Parkers Ferry Road. This land, the Shepard Tract, was once considered as a potential location for garbage landfill. Residents in 2009 protested about the possible use of this site as a dump and the county decided to sell the land.

There was a willing buyer but they seemed to want the land without any deed restriction.

Unwittingly, Charleston County had not placed a restriction on the title prohibiting landfill and when it announced its intention, the buyer lost interest.[17]

External links

References