WINNSBORO —Fairfield County Council voted 7-0 to allow interim county administrator Milton Pope to draft a contract to allow Central Midlands Council of Governments (COG) to take the lead on Fairfield County’s long term strategic plan.
Fairfield County does not currently have a planning committee.
Councilman David Brown (District 7) made motion, which will allow the COG to handle Fairfield County’s long term strategic plan. Pope is tasked with negotiating the draft and contractual document with the COG to incorporate the planning process and update existing county plans, as well as use all existing documentation including the plan that was done in 2010 to maximize creative thought and minimize the cost of the county.
The cost of the partnership was not determined with Council’s vote. Ferguson said later that the cost would not be available until after the contract was prepared.
In his motion, Brown included the authorization to the COG to bid out or use the appropriate resources when the county needs people to plan and move into the future.
County Council Vice Chair Dwayne Perry expressed his support of the motion during discussions.
“I definitely support this as opposed to some of the situations that were recognized a few years ago,” Perry stated. “In the original plan it was asked that we bring in quite a few members underneath the county and pay them annually to do this.”
However, the county already pays an annual salary to its Economic Development Director Tiffany Harrison.
“I think this will be a great asset to use to even help her (Harrison) to help with planning,” Perry added. “I think this would be a good idea to get the COG involved with the long term planning.”
There are 10 regional planning councils across the state. The regional governments were created to assist rural municipalities and governments. They also plan by region. Central Midlands is the council government is the one Fairfield County is a part of. It is shared with Richland, Newberry and Lexington Counties.
Pope explained that the COG was set up by state law in order to have regional panning governments across the state. They do have professional planners on staff, approximately 40.
“I think it is very important that we use the existing information we have and just don’t’ throw away what we do have,” Pope advised council. “That will really help us to further the information we have and make it more cost effective so we don’t’ have to basically do the same thing.”
The COG was created to help counties take the next step in planning its’ futures.
“I would professionally say and strongly encourage the county to do that (partner with COG) so we can move forward with our planning,” Pope said.
At a recent COG meeting, Brown noted that the City of Columbia and Richland County just hired the same planner to do their study for them.
“Planning is something that is very complicated and very long term,” Brown stated. “You have to know what you’re doing and we don’t need to hire a department of long-term planners because we already are a part of what we need with the COG.”
On June 16, the county will host an intergovernmental meeting at Midlands Technical College in Winnsboro.