May 28, 2022

The Nerve

Where Government Gets Exposed

Aiken Officials Don’t Know What it Costs to Run City


The NerveCity officials in Aiken apparently aren’t quite sure just how much taxpayer money it takes to operate their community of 30,000.

At a May 3 Aiken City Council budget workshop, City Manager Roger LeDuc and Mayor Fred Cavanaugh were asked if they knew how much money it took to run the city. They responded by quoting figures from the city budget.

Aiken resident Deedee Vaughters then rephrased the question and asked “No, how many total taxpayer dollars are used to run this city each year?” referring also to money from the U.S. Department of Energy money, the U.S. Department of Transportation, grants money, Heritage Trust Foundation monies and other sources.

LeDuc’s response was: “I don’t know,” while Cavanaugh said, “That would be impossible to figure out.”

“How much does it take to run a town of 30,000? $80 million? $90 million? $100 million? Apparently our mayor and city manager don’t know,” said Vaughters in an interview with The Nerve. “I told them that I found that very frightening.”

Vaughters operates a small business in Aiken with her husband and also sits on the board of the S.C. Policy Council, The Nerve’s parent organization.

Vaughters said it appeared Cavanaugh had no idea of the true tax burden on businesses inside the city limits of Aiken and that he admitted that he had no idea that businesses in the city of Aiken paid a city and county merchant’s property tax on fixtures, furnishings and equipment.

Last month, the City Council had stated that it would like to meet with business owners to discuss issues of significance to them and their businesses.

Vaughters had reminded them of this earlier in the month and Councilman Dick Dewar asked for the use of a conference room at the City Municipal Building.

However, LeDuc said that “the businesses must be charged a rental fee for the conference room because they were a special-interest group.”

Reach Dietrich at (803) 779-5022, ext. 110, or at

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The Nerve