Disagreement over whether Council spend thousands of dollars on a retreat

COLUMBIA (WACH) - At the end of January, Richland County Council members will go on a two day retreat to Clemson, South Carolina to discuss the agenda for the upcoming year. That retreat is estimated to cost close to $7,000 and not every member of Council agrees on spending that money to go out of town instead of simply having the meeting here in Columbia in Richland County Council Chambers.

The issue of whether to go out of town for the retreat came up at a recent County Council meeting.

It came down to a 7 to 4 vote, with 7 members voting to go out of town and four wishing to stay in Columbia.

Council member Seth Rose is one of the 4 who gave the idea a thumbs down.

"I voted against it. I think we need as a Council to not raise taxes one year on citizens before we spend thousands of dollars to go out of town." says Seth Rose, a member of Richland County Council.

But Council member Paul Livingston openly disagreed in the Council meeting.

"It's far more important to have Council members engaged in the meeting the whole time as opposed to being in town, every five minutes a Council member is going to take care of business here and there and so forth. I think the benefit for just simply getting away to really spend time with each other and talk about the issues and not be interrupted is far more valuable than $7,000." stated Paul Livingston, a member of Richland County Council.

I called every member of Richland County Council and each member who voted against the trip got in touch with me.

The general consensus is that whatever will be accomplished at the Madren Conference Center in Clemson could also be accomplished here in Columbia.

When it came to those who voted for the trip, I was able to get in touch with Jim Manning, Torrey Rush, and Gregory Pearce over the phone.

They all agreed that getting away as a group with no distractions would allow everyone to focus and get on the same page when it comes to the agenda for the upcoming year.

But Rose believes the money spent on the retreat could be put to better use right here at home.

"I mean you're talking about seven to eight thousand dollars for a weekend retreat for Council. I mean, that could be several months pay for a public safety officer or a firemen, or something to that effect." concludes Rose.

Despite what side of the issue each member may be on, they can agree on wanting 2014 to be a very productive year to make Richland County the best it can be for all its residents.

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