Lyman Voters Pay For Public Election Out Of Own Pockets - WSPA.com

Lyman Voters Pay For Public Election Out Of Own Pockets

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Lyman, S.C. -

Private citizens in Lyman will donate money for an upcoming special election. It’s a situation so unusual that both the Spartanburg County election supervisor and the South Carolina Election Commission said they had never encountered it before.

The special election, scheduled for August 12th, will ask voters whether they support changing the form of government from the current “strong mayor” form to a “strong council”.

If that happens, current mayor Rodney Turner would lose most authority over the town’s daily functions including personnel decisions.

Lyman town officials said voters had already raised more than $600 of the estimated $2,500 election cost.

Voter Teresa Wilbanks gave $100 saying she felt it was the only way to ensure the election took place.

"I'm just a simple citizen participating in my government," Wilbanks said.

The citizen funding began after Mayor Turner appeared to say the upcoming election could trigger a tax hike after council approved a measure adding the vote to the calendar.

“That reckless behavior, in my opinion, will end up causing us to raise taxes in the future," Turner said.

7 On Your Side checked the numbers to see what impact the cost of an election would have on town finances. Lyman had a budget surplus of $370,000 in the just finished fiscal year and has $900,000 in cash reserves. Council members said there was no plan to raise taxes.

Mayor Turner later clarified his position, saying he considered the cost of a special election, instead of waiting the November ballot, wasteful. He said that kind of waste would eventually require a tax increase if repeated over time.

7 On Your Side first reported the tension between the mayor and police force after a Lyman officer was indicted for destroying evidence in a criminal case.

Emails obtained through the freedom of information act showed the police chief had repeatedly complained about one officer, Sergeant Michael Hames, including recommending the officer for dismissal after Hames failed to make an arrest in a DUI case.

The chief, in an email to the mayor said Hames was, “a liability to the department and the town of Lyman.”

Instead of firing Hames, Turner promoted him.

Other officers, meanwhile, were fired by Turner leaving the department with fewer than half the staff than what is proscribed in the town budget. At a town council meeting, the chief said the force would not be capable of providing security to the summer’s “Lyman Fest”.

“It is, I think, a benefit that council would have a stronger voice in those matters and be able to participate in the process,” said town councilman Tony Wyatt. “The process of staffing and hiring and firing."

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