WINNSBORO — Fairfield County Councilman David Brown’s (District 7) motion to return to a seven committee system failed to pass during the April 14 meeting by a vote of 3-3.
Mary Lynn Kinley (District 6) was absent from the meeting.
Brown, Dwayne Perry (District 1) and Carolyn Robinson (District 2) all voted in favor of a seven committee system.
Kamau Marcharia (District 4), Mikel Trapp (District 3) and chairman David Ferguson (District 5) voted nay on the matter.
The seven committee system has been a hot topic within the public recently in order to produce a more transparent county government and a more informed public.
Fairfield County Council is currently using a three committee system along with an ad-hoc committee, which is allotted to pick up various issues.
The three committees include the Administration and Finance Committee, Economic Development Committee and the Development and Policy Committee.
Although when Brown asked for a list of each committee’s members, administration was only able to provide a list of members after a noticeable hesitation.
Once the list of members was provided, Brown was surprised to find out he was serving on the Economic Development Committee.
Interim County Administrator Milton Pope said if council wishes to return to a seven committee system, which is allowed in the county’s bylaws they could do so, but he believes any issue that is brought up can be handled by the current system.
Prior to Pope’s hire last summer, the county did not have any committees.
It was only once the public requested more transparency that council moved to the current three committee system.
“Reestablishing the committee process was to create a sense of transparency, so that items would be reviewed by a committee prior to that matter coming to County Council,” Pope said. “If that is the case, then I feel very comfortable in saying that the committee process that has been accepted by this Council, the three committees, I think that structure is fine.”
According to Robinson when she first came on council the seven committee system was working efficiently.
“We had a fabulous seven-committee system,” she noted. “And we had an administrator that believed in putting everything into a committee.”
District 7 resident Billy Smith implored council to re-evaluate and revise its committee system.
He requested that council expand and improve the committee structure to serve the public with more transparency.
“I think the structure has a lot of room for improvement,” he noted during the first public comment portion of the meeting. “Giving the public more access and input is a good thing. We can’t give you input if we don’t know what’s going on. There are a lot of things going on right now that we don’t know about. There are a lot of things going on that some council members don’t know about.”