County seeks more money for social services building


The Clarendon County Council voted at a meeting in Turbeville on Tuesday to borrow more money to complete a new human services building in Manning.

The county coroner's office, the South Carolina Department of Social Services and the Department of Probation and Parole and Pardon Services will be housed in the Ithea Gibson Center on Commerce Street.

"Unanticipated costs" have required an additional $650,000 for the project, according to County Administrator David Epperson.

"It is a much-needed project," Epperson said. "The current DSS building is very old, and we never had a coroner's office."

He said the new coroner's office would include a morgue.

"Right now, we are using the Clarendon Health morgue," he said.

In response to a question from Councilor Billy Richardson, Epperson said the morgue would hold as many as six bodies.

"It's basically like a walk-in cooler," he said.

Epperson said a pre-fabricated building has been ordered as part of the renovations to the building.

Council voted to approve the first reading of the ordinance to issue a general obligation bond not to exceed $650,000 for the project.

Council also approved a proclamation making March 15 "Peace Officer's Memorial Day" and requesting flags to be flown at half-staff that day.

After an executive session, the Council voted to authorize Epperson to negotiate with Assistant County Assessor Gail McCormack to take the job of county assessor.

Chief Financial Office Lynden Anthony told council receipts of ad valorem taxes were still below a year ago.

"We have been cutting back expenditures," he said

Anthony said revenue for water and sewer services were slightly up despite purchasing water from the City of Manning.

During a discussion period, councilman Benton Blakely pointed out that several roads in the Turbeville area had been recently paved by the county, including Pope Road in front of East Clarendon High School.

"I don't know if the school people know we paved the roads," he said.

Epperson explained the county has been able to pave numerous roads, including Pope Road, using funding from the state.

He said the county and municipalities met to decide which state-owned roads could be paved, but with so many projects going on sometimes the county is not aware what projects the state has authorized as a S.C. Department of Transportation project.

"The challenge is not to authorize a road they have already authorized," Epperson said. "They take longer than we do and a lot of times we pick a road and they have already sent in to Columbia for authorization."

As an example, he said the county paved Player's Course Drive not knowing the state had approved the DOT to pave it.

"We lost out on a little bit of money that way that could have been used somewhere else," he said. "We have changed our approach to make sure we don't have that problem moving forward."

Epperson said the General Assembly is working on a bill to reimburse counties related to expenses from the 2015 flood and 2014 ice storm.

"Hopefully we can get some reimbursement from that," Epperson said.