Leadership Switch Costing Tens of Thousands of Tax Dollars in Si - WSPA.com

Leadership Switch Costing Tens of Thousands of Tax Dollars in Simpsonville

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Simpsonville city council voted 4-3 Tuesday night to reinstate fired police Chief Keith Grounsell. Simpsonville city council voted 4-3 Tuesday night to reinstate fired police Chief Keith Grounsell.
SIMPSONVILLE, S.C. - A controversial shake-up among Simpsonville city leaders adds up to a price tag in the tens of thousands for taxpayers.

Simpsonville city council voted 4-3 Tuesday night to reinstate fired police Chief Keith Grounsell.

"It's vindicating. It's humbling," said Grounsell.

Simpsonville taxpayers spoke out at city hall Tuesday night on both sides, but one theme was consistent -- frustration.

"You have kept this community and its citizens in upheaval far too long," said one woman during public comments at the meeting.

Another woman read a children's book to the council called Llama Llama and the Bully Goat.

A previous council fired Grounsell in 2012 for what they said was not living up to the standards of a police chief and divulging classified information.

The State Law Enforcement Division is still investigating the circumstances of Chief Grounsell's firing.

Council voted Tuesday night to give him back pay for his 14 months off the job, which adds up to nearly $86,000.

"Where is that money going to come from? It's going to come from the taxpayers," said one Simpsonville man at the council meeting.

It didn't stop there.

The council also voted to demote now former Chief Steve Moore to deputy chief, but keep him at his current salary of nearly $76,000 a year. Before being promoted to chief, Moore made about $44,000.

Last month, city council voted to fire city administrator Russ Hawes, who got about $60,000 in severance pay out of taxpayers' pockets.

"We're going to work to mitigate it with the least amount of economic impact that can be possible. And there are certain areas that money may have been spent unnecessarily," said Taylor Graham, one of two new council members this year.

Graham said he hopes these leadership changes will help get the city back on track.

"I think that there's just a lot of drama back and forth, a lot of misunderstanding, or not fact-finding information, or not being open government," said Graham.

He hopes this controversy was the final hurdle.

City leaders said they're working out where all this money is going to come from. They said it's also too soon to tell how future projects in the city could be affected.

One area taxpayers won't have to foot the bill: Grounsell won't have to go back for training at the South Carolina Justice Academy because he's been working as a reserve deputy in Greenville County.

Mayor Perry Eichor said the city hasn't started looking for a new permanent city administrator yet. The city planner is acting as interim city administrator.
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