Charleston Considers Consolidation Question
By Warwick Jones
Charleston County Council member Vic Rawl was responsible for placing the question on the referendum at the end of last year. And during the Nov. 3 council meeting he was responsible for asking what action the council was going to take?
The referendum question was: Should Charleston County Council appoint a consolidated charter commission for the purpose of preparing a proposed charter to establish countywide consolidation of local government function or functions?
More than 60 percent of voters answered “yes.”
There was lengthy and at times arcane discussion of the issue. Some members were skeptical that significant consolidation could be achieved particularly with the large municipalities unwilling to give up responsibilities.
But members also recognized that citizens had responded favorably to the question and their voices could not be ignored.
The arcane part of the discussion related to South Carolina law and as to how the council would proceed. The referendum question was not binding on proceeding with consolidation, only “advisory.”
If county council chose to move ahead under the state consolidated government charter, there were mandatory obligations such as appointment of members to a commission, timing of a report and a final referendum. The council clearly wanted this.
In conclusion Chairman Teddie Pryor appointed five members of council to a committee to make a preliminary assessment. Members were: Rawl, Anna Johnson, Joe Qualey, Colleen Condon and Herbert Sass.