WINNSBORO — Fairfield County Council approved legal representation for three of its members following an executive session Monday night.
Council entered into an executive session to discuss legal matters pertaining to a pending lawsuit. Council Chairman David Ferguson said council also received an economic development update from Economic Development Director Tiffany Harrison.
After emerging from executive session, Vice Chairman Dwayne Perry presided over the meeting while Ferguson and Mary Lynn Kinley sat in the audience area.
Perry read a motion to acknowledge and consent to the legal representation of Ferguson, Kinley and Mikel Trapp, each on an individual basis, by the Wyche Law Firm pertaining to lawsuits recently brought against them by members of the community, and to waive, on behalf of Fairfield County, any actual or potential conflicts that might be presented as a result of such representation.
The motion was seconded by Carolyn Robinson and passed unanimously. After the motion, Ferguson and Kinley returned from the audience area to the council dais and the meeting was adjourned. Trapp was absent from the meeting.
Ferguson confirmed that he, Kinley and Trapp will be paying their own legal fees as they are represented in the cases. Ferguson said the language in the motion was needed to absolve the county from conflict or responsibility in the case since the county has retained Wyche’s services in the past.
In other business, council:
• Passed third and final reading of Ordinance 622 authorizing an amendment to the fee agreement between the county and Lang Mekra. The vote was 5-1, with Councilman Kamau Marcharia opposing. Marcharia said he voted against it and will continue to vote against it “(i)f I don’t understand all the minute things that are in here, then I need things explained to me.”
Marcharia expressed concern over potential hidden agendas. He said if he voted “no” to motions then they could be brought before council again at a later date.
“I just need to understand specifically what are we getting and what are we getting in return,” he said.
Ferguson said legal counsel was present at the last meeting to clarify issues.
“Any time a motion comes to the floor, it is inherent that you understand what you are voting for,” Ferguson said. “Mr. Marcharia, if you don’t understand something please say so and we will find someone to answer your questions.”
Marcharia agreed to make that request in the future.
• Passed third and final reading of Ordinance 623 authorizing an amendment to the master agreement governing the I-77 corridor regional industrial park. The vote was 5-1, with Marcharia opposing.
• Unanimously passed a request by interim County Administrator Milton Pope and county staff to establish a three-person ad hoc committee to review and discuss recommendations for a temporary location for county offices while the county courthouse undergoes renovations. Ferguson said council would discuss it and come up with a plan for selecting the three people to serve on the committee.
• Unanimously passed the new council expense reimbursement policy. Under the new policy, the county is not responsible for purchases or maintaining equipment. Members will be reimbursed directly through monthly checks but only after all invoices, receipts and mileage logs are in hand. Expenses turned in 90 days or more after an occurrence will not be eligible for reimbursement.
Several expense allowances were increased, such as the Internet connectivity allowance, which was increased to $175 per month to give latitude for different rates in rural and municipal areas. The policy also allows up to $75 per month for office supplies (ink paper, constituent nonpolitical postage) with the proper documentation. Mileage is 56 cents per mile, the IRS recommended rate.
• Heard from Marcharia, who wanted to clarify his vote against the second reading of Ordinance 620 authorizing the county to sell property to the Fairfield Community Development Corporation for use as a commercial kitchen and extension of the Fairfield County Farmer’s Market efforts.
“In my understanding there was a lot of conflict with that project at that time,” he said. “I thought I voted for it but I didn’t. By the time it comes up for the third and final reading I certainly will vote for it.”