Friday, September 19, 2014

On the road...Week one

Preparations for the 2015 legislative session got into full swing this week with the first two of our ten Regional Advocacy Meetings.

We started in Uptown Greenwood on Tuesday where Mayor Welborn Adams welcomed local officials and city staff from the region to the beautiful Arts Center located in the renovated federal building. Close to 50 local officials from 12 cities and towns joined the Association staff for a lively conversation about issues affecting cities and towns. Blight, infrastructure, budget priorities and changes to the Freedom of Information Act topped the list of issues local officials discussed.

Senators Floyd Nicholson (left) and Billy O’Dell were joined by Representative Craig Gagnon who gave their insight into the upcoming session. The senators both said they support a gas tax increase but acknowledged passage would likely be an uphill battle. Rep. Gagnon noted he had heard from many of his House colleagues that the time has come to address the funding shortfall in the Local Government Fund. 

On Wednesday in Florence, we had another great turnout of more than 50 officials from 15 Pee Dee cities and towns. Florence Mayor Stephen Wukela greeted the local officials and staff who met in the recently opened Hotel Florence (right), a locally-owned downtown boutique hotel located in a rehabbed building that was originally a hotel and a hardware store.

Again, clearing blight, funding infrastructure, updating FOIA to require an agenda and identifying ways to fund services topped the list of issues discussed. 

Rep. Wayne George (left) spoke to the group about the importance of local officials’ voices in the debate over the Local Government Fund. As a former mayor, George said he completely understands the importance of LGF dollars to funding public safety and infrastructure, in particular. “Be aggressive in your efforts to support a new Local Government Fund formula,” he said.

Next week, we move on to Columbia, Summerville and Greenville. It’s not too late for elected officials and city staff to register and voice your opinion on issues affecting cities and towns.

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