County elects officers, receives clean audit

Darlington County Council officers for the new year are (right to left) Chairman Bobby Hudson (District # 4, Lamar), Vice Chairman Lewis Brown (District # 7, Hartsville/Kelleytown) and Chaplain Dannie Douglas (District #2, Society Hill). Photo by Samantha Lyles

By Samantha Lylesslyles@newsandpress.net

On Jan. 7, Darlington County Council convened their first meeting of 2020 and elected officers for the new year. By unanimous vote, Bobby Hudson (District #4, Lamar) was re-elected chairman, Lewis Brown (District #7, Hartsville/Kelleytown) was re-elected as vice chairman and Dannie Douglas (District #2, Society Hill) will again serve as chaplain.

County administrator Charles Stewart presented council members with copies of the fiscal year 2018-19 audit, completed by accounting firm Mauldin & Jenkins. Stewart said the auditors issued an “unmodified” opinion with no findings, meaning they found the county’s finances in good order. He noted that this opinion shows marked improvement over the 2015 audit, which returned an opinion with at least 15 issues that needed to be addressed.

“Those (issues) have been chipped away at, but in this audit, there are no findings by the auditor of anything they think needs to be changed or done differently,” said Stewart.

Jack Witherspoon. Photo by Samantha Lyles

Financial highlights in the report included the following information:

“The assets and deferred outflows of resources of Darlington County exceeded its liabilities and deferred inflows of resources at June 30, 2019, by approximately $50.3 million (net position).

“At June 30, 2019, the county’s General Fund reported a total fund balance of $32.45 million. At the end of the current fiscal year, the county’s unassigned fund balance for the General Fund was $23.1 million.”

To view the full audit, including departmental revenues and expenditures, visit the county’s website at www.darcosc.com. The audit can be found via the Finance Department tab under County Financial Statements.

From the regular agenda for this meeting, council held a title only first reading for the updated comprehensive plan, which includes data on population trends, economic development strategies, housing, land use, natural resources and other topics relevant to the county’s growth. The full plan can be viewed by visiting the county’s website, clicking the County Council tab, and navigating to the Jan. 7 meeting agenda.

Council also approved leasing a T-Hangar at the County Airport to Gary Morrison for $135 per month, approved the 2020-2025 Darlington County Airport Capital Improvement Plan, and okayed the 2020 Schedule of Meetings for County Council.

During Citizen’s Comments, Agent in Charge Jack Witherspoon of Darlington County Probation Pardons and Parole thanked Council for recent improvements to the PPP offices on Russell Street in Darlington. Witherspoon said that when he took his post last May he was “astonished” at the lax security and noted that offenders could freely walk into and around the offices.

He requested help from the county and improvements were made, including walling off the lobby from the main offices, installing detectors and security lighting, and putting up new sheet rock. As a gesture of thanks, Witherspoon presented each Council member with a PPP challenge coin.

“We want to thank you for everything you’ve done to help us get a secure building, and helping us continue to keep the citizens safe in Darlington County,” said Witherspoon.

The next scheduled meeting for Darlington County Council will be Monday, Feb. 3 at 6 p.m. in the Courthouse Annex located at 1625 Harry Byrd Hwy in Darlington.

Author: Rachel Howell

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