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Seething council asks for legal opinion to challenge recreation deal

Bettis: Greenville County 'Legislators left us out to dry'

By Jim Fair, Editor
Published on Wednesday, June 26, 2013

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'(County Council) never came to us and the Greenville County legislators hung us out to dry.'
Wryley Bettis
Councilman (District 5)

'(County Council) never came to us and the Greenville County legislators hung us out to dry.'

Wryley Bettis

Councilman (District 5)



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'(County Council was like) 'us against them. It seems to me that this was predicated on misinformation.'
Jay Arrowood
Councilman (District 1)

'(County Council was like) 'us against them. It seems to me that this was predicated on misinformation.'

Jay Arrowood

Councilman (District 1)



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'It’s important at this point to shift our focus and work with the recreation department and tell our citizens they are going to get something for their taxes.'
Mayor Rick Danner

'It’s important at this point to shift our focus and work with the recreation department and tell our citizens they are going to get something for their taxes.'

Mayor Rick Danner



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'I don’t recommend legal action until we hear from our city attorney.'
City Administrator Ed Driggers

'I don’t recommend legal action until we hear from our city attorney.'

City Administrator Ed Driggers



Greer City Council members were still seething Tuesday night over Greenville County Council’s moxie to dissolve the county recreation district into a separate county department.

Led by Jay Arrowood (District 1), Greer council voted to authorize City Administrator Ed Driggers “to get a legal opinion on whether or not, either in the document or the process, there is a possibility of a challenge” to County Council’s passing of last week’s resolution.

Wryley Bettis (District 5) made the motion for the request and Wayne Griffin (District 2) seconded. It passed 5-2 with Mayor Rick Danner and councilwoman Kimberly Bookert (District 3) casting no votes.

It was at Arrowood’s request that a discussion and council’s input be sought on the new tax that will be levied on four cities – Greer, Greenville, Mauldin, Simpsonville – that opted out of the former Greenville County Recreation District years ago.

County Council voted 9-2 on June 18 to pass a resolution to accept the recreation district’s assets and liabilities effective July 1. Taxpayers in the four cities can expect to see a tax increase of about $20 while other residents outside the cities may see a $10 decrease. County Council will set the tax rate in August.

Arrowood likened County Council’s craftiness “as doing this as us against them. It seems to me that this was predicated on misinformation.”

Bettis said the legislation appeared to be guided with the end result already in hand. “This was very slick and done under the radar,” Bettis said. “They (county council) never came to us and the Greenville County legislators hung us out to dry.”

Council was openly critical of the artful process of defining the legislation, the recruitment of the Greenville County legislative sponsors and the bill’s rapid movement through the legislature. Governor Nikki Haley signed the amendment May 3.

GCRD’s board quickly petitioned County Council to dissolve the special tax district in which it did by resolution on one procedural vote.

The legislation was introduced on Jan. 24 and the final reading was April 19. “The final reading was 50 legislative days,” Bettis said. “It never came to us and it amounts to a tax without representation.”

The GCRD held a public hearing, published on its website, before its second approval. No one from Greer attended.

“The tax is important and the process is equally important,” Bettis said. “They obviously adopted this plan and kept it a secret. We are going to be pouring money into a system to take care of what they already have. There’s no excuse for the process they used.”

Arrowood asked, “Mr. Driggers is there any challenges out there?”

“That’s a complicated question. There may be and there may not be,” Driggers said. “I don’t recommend legal action until we hear from our city attorney.’

Driggers told council members of his and Danner’s decision to work behind the scenes to seek support.

“If legislators were sponsors we asked them to oppose or withdraw. Rep. Rita Allison offered language in the amendment to have cities opt in or opt,” Driggers said. Rep. Tommy Stringer, Greenville District 18, an original sponsor removed his name.

Driggers suggested city municipalities have the same two-thirds vote option by its councils to opt in or opt out on the recreation district merger that the GCRD and County Council exercised.

that a two-thirds vote by city council could decide if municipalities  wanted to be part of a the county’s recreation department. Greer chooses to be part of the Spartanburg County recreation department.

Danner’s explanation of his no vote caught some council members by surprise. He said he decided to work behind the scenes through the Mayors Association of the effected cities and legislators.

Arrowood was asked why city council did not reach out to the public. “I did,” he said. “I spoke to groups and businesses.” He said he didn’t know why Danner or Driggers did not broach the subject at council meetings. “I don’t know. You will have to ask them.”

Driggers, replied, “I am not on council, I’m the administrator. I’m just a paid employee.”

Danner reasoned that he followed two news reports and saw there were no public responses. “This just didn’t get any legs,” Danner said.

Storied continued on page 2


CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 >>

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