Councilwoman: still learning, wants to receive citizens’ concerns and act, where possible
Saying she is on a voyage of discovery and, as a Clinton City Council member “a work in progress,” Megan Walsh met for 90 minutes Thursday with about 30 constituents in an unusual public forum for the area she represents.
Walsh, Ward 6 representative, has been a council member for just a few months, and admitted she had some catching up to do. She has attended two SC Municipal Association trainings, which are timed for January since most elections are conducted in November. With municipal elections happening last spring, Walsh kept an eye out for training opportunities and found two - forms of government and FOIA, and budgeting. (FOIA is the SC Freedom of Information Act.)
She expressed some concern that council members often aren’t kept “in the loop” as much as they should be. She didn’t know in advance that South Broad St. was to be closed last Monday.
“How can you not know that?” constituent Susan Tallman asked.
It didn’t come up at the most recent council meeting, and SC DOT didn’t make an announcement until electronic “road closing” signs were posted last Monday, she said. The closing, through June 20, is to cut down large oak trees identified by an arborist as beyond saving; the city has said that identification was done through the SC Forestry Commission. The street will be closed again later this summer for re-paving, timed for after the city replaced aging water and sewer lines.
Walsh addressed what she said she has heard as citizens’ concerns. She said the division of Public Safety into separate Police and Fire Departments will add a $34,000/annual expense to the city’s budget.
She said the sanitation department does have one less employee, but that worker wasn’t terminated - the position went to parks and recreation.
Managing these resources is the job of the city manager, she said.
“The city council is in charge of the city manager. The manager is in charge of the day-to-day operations,” Walsh said. She added that the city manager’s contract is available to the public under FOIA.
Her constituents expressed concern about some verbal confrontations at council meetings, and the non-development of the former Martha Dendy School.
Susan Galloway, representing Clinton Canopy, said beautification of the Dendy site will be done through a $20,000 TD Greens grant. She also reported the city has received a grant-extension for a potential Millers Fork Trail, east of Clinton near I-26; the project has been bid twice with the city accepting no bid in either bid submission process.
Galloway and others said something needs to be done to encourage more citizens to volunteer for service on boards and commissions. With no potential for new members, the group agreed, the same people stay in place and never “rotate off” the city boards.
Walsh said the city is getting a QT gas station/convenience store in the Hwy 72-I-26 corridor. Also, the city announced Thursday that Burger King is building on South Broad Street (in the CVS - Bi-Lo - Sonic - Dempseys area).
The QT land will have to be annexed into the city (for the gas station to have full city utilities), she said, but the land is contiguous to the present city limits.
Walsh said she wants the city to return to putting printed newsletters in utility bills. Some constituents expressed concern that now that they are paying on-line, they wouldn’t get the information through the mail. Walsh expressed interest in seeing continuing updates done to the city’s website - to inform the public about upcoming events, projects and issues.
The constituents generally agreed the city does a good job through Facebook posting up-to-date boil water advisories and highlighting employees.
Walsh said she will share the concerns she heard from constituents withe rest of Clinton City Council.