WINNSBORO — Interim County Administrator Milton Pope has recommended Fairfield County Council reinstate the committee process in Fairfield County, a process discontinued at the recommendation of the county’s former administrator.
County council passed the recommendation 6-0 at a specially called meeting of Fairfield County Council.
While Phil Hinely was county administrator, he had more latitude in making decisions to affect the county, but some county council members, led by Carolyn Robinson, opposed the practice.
In the past year, Robinson spoke several times during county council time to explain why she felt the decision making ability of council was hindered by the absence of committees. By the spring of 2014, council again will have committees that will meet and report back to council after studying items in depth.
Pope said that having committees meet improves the quality of the information that council members receive, information on which they base policy decisions. Pope mentioned how Robinson and Councilman David Brown had mentioned several times in the preceding months of the disadvantages council members faced under the previous system that abolished committees.
Pope recommended the committee structure be consolidated from the way the county was managed under the old committee systems and that council divide into three committees.
The administration/finance committee would address the ways and means of the county as well as taxes, bonds and budgets. The Policy and development Committee would address all other county matters except economic development. The Economic Development Committee would address economic development.
Pope said the committees would be a part of the governmental structure, if the recommendation were implemented, but that the council action request process would continue to be used as a matter of council business.
If a committee meets and makes a presentation before council, council maintains the right, by a majority vote, to request the committee reconvene and explore the item further if council needs more information or if more details are required.
The chairman of council will appoint committees in February each year. No standing committee can meet at the same time as another committee. Council members have a right to attend committee meetings and sit in the audience if they are not on a particular committee. Once appointed to the committee, no one can be removed from a committee without the approval of council. Personnel matters will be addressed by all of council, not by committees.
Committee meetings must have agendas and no committee member can vote by proxy. Citizens could address the committee provided the chair granted that right and the committee consented to it but the issue must be cleared by the clerk to council prior to the committee meeting.
Budget sessions require all seven county council members.