Complaint Filed In Regards To LOST Funds, Additional Matters

A complaint has been filed in the Court of Common Pleas regarding the Local Option Sales Tax money, two mills the complaint says was added for Northeastern Technical College, and the validity of the 2017-2018 Dillon County Budget Ordinance.
The plaintiff is Jamie Calhoun Estes, Dillon County Treasurer, vs. Rodney Berry as administrator of Dillon County and in his capacity as Chief Officer of the Dillon County Government, the Dillon County Board of Education, and Northeastern Technical College.
In the document, it asks that the court hear the issues presented in the document and issue a declaratory judgment regarding various matters.
The bulk of the document reads as follows:
The Plaintiff herein, complaining of the Defendants herein, respectfully shows the Court:
1. That the Plaintiff is the duly elected and serving Treasurer of Dillon County, SC, and is statutorily charged with the receipt and disbursement of certain funds for Dillon County.
2. That Rodney Berry is the appointed and serving Administrator for Dillon County, SC.
3. That Dillon County operates under the Council Administrator form of government.
4. That the Dillon County Board of Education is an organization which is appointed by the Governor of the State of South Carolina and which is charged with oversight of the Dillon County School Districts.
5. That Northeastern Technical College is a not for profit corporation organized under the laws of the State of South Carolina and which operates a technical college in Dillon County, SC.
6. That this Court has personal jurisdiction of the parties and subject matter jurisdiction of the issues presented in this Complaint.
7. That in 1995 Dillon County presented a referendum to the electorate of Dillon County for the purpose of establishing a Local Option Sales Tax (hereinafter referred to as LOST). At a meeting of the Dillon County Council held on September 1, 1995, Dillon County agreed to split the county portion of the LOST with the Dillon County Board of Education. It is believed this was done in order to insure passage of the referendum.
8. The LOST Referendum was held on November 7, 1995, and passed. The State began collecting the LOST around May of 1997 and since that time the LOST has been paid into the Dillon County Treasurer’s office and evenly split between Dillon County and the Dillon County Board of Education.
9. By letter dated June 30, 2017, the Dillon County Administrator notified the Plaintiff that no LOST funds were to be paid to the Dillon County Board of Education.
10. That on June 30, 2017, the Dillon County Council passed a Budget Ordinance indicating that all LOST funds were to be paid into the general fund for Dillon County
11. That Plaintiff believes she is obligated to pay one half of the LOST funds to the Dillon County Board of Education but is reluctant to do so without guidance from the Court as to her obligations.
12. That around 2001 or 2002 the Dillon County Council was approached by Northeastern Technical College regarding the placement of a Campus in Dillon County. There was much discussion regarding the new technical college campus for Dillon County. As funds were needed for the new campus the Dillon County Council agreed to add two (2) mills onto its general operating taxes which two (2) mills were to be paid to Northeastern Technical College. The two (2) mills of taxes were added onto the general taxes and have been collected since around 2002. That the Dillon County Council has reduced the budget for Northeastern Technical College.
13. That Plaintiff believes she is entitled to a Declaratory Judgement regarding the amount that she is to pay to Northeastern Technical College from the fiscal year 2017-2018.
14. That the Dillon County Council began its budget process around March or April of 2017. That Council had a First Reading (by title only) on May 24, 2017. Thereafter on June 9, 2017, Council had Second Reading of the Budget Ordinance. On June 28, 2017, Council scheduled a Public Hearing on the Budget Ordinance and also scheduled Third Reading. There were eight (8) persons who signed up to speak at the Public Hearing and each person was allotted a minimum of three minutes. However the Chairman did not allow public input and no one was allowed even three (3) minutes to speak on the budget. Thereafter Council tabled third reading of the Budget Ordinance, the reason being stated was that the budget had been changed from the Second Reading and that Council had not been given ample time to review the budget then being presented.
15. Council scheduled a Special Meeting for June 30, 2017, for the third reading of the Budget Ordinance. At that meeting a motion was made to amend the Budget Ordinance presented at the June 28, 2017, meeting by eliminating a line item of $150,000.00 for the Dillon County Board of Education.
16. That Plaintiff has the duty to disburse funds authorized by the Dillon County Budget. However Plaintiff believes that the Budget Ordinance passed by Dillon County Council on June 30, 2017, is an illegal ordinance for two reasons:
A. The Public Hearing conducted by Dillon County Council was not a Public Hearing as required by statute in that the Public was not allowed to address issues being presented in the Budget Ordinance.
B. The Budget Ordinance as passed was different from the Budget Ordinance approved at Second Reading and there was no Motion to Amend the Ordinance presented for Second Reading. There was a Motion to make one amendment to the budget presented for Third Reading but Plaintiff believes there were numerous changes to the Ordinance presented for Second Reading and there was no Motion to Amend any of those changes.
17. That as Plaintiff has the duty to disburse funds in accordance with the Dillon County Budget, Plaintiff believes she is entitled to a Declaratory Judgement regarding the validity of the Dillon County Budget Ordinance passed by Dillon County Council on June 30, 2017.
18.The Plaintiff does not demand a Jury Trial.
WHEREFORE, Plaintiff prays that the Court hear the issues presented herein and issue its Declaratory Judgement regarding the following:
1. As to what portion of the Local Option Sales Tax, if any, Plaintiff should distribute to the Dillon County Board of Education.
2. As to what portion of the two (2) mill tax added on to the Dillon County General Tax, if any, should be paid to Northeastern Technical College.
3. As to the validity of the 2017-2018 Dillon County Budget Ordinance passed by Dillon County Council on June 30, 2017.
4. That pursuant to the Declaratory Judgement Statutes, the Court may award fees and expenses in its discretion and Plaintiff believes she is entitled to recover fees and expenses from Dillon County.
5. That in an action against a governmental entity such as a County, a party is entitled to recover fees and costs and Plaintiff believes she is entitled to recover fees and costs from Dillon County.
The document is signed by Charles E. Curry, Attorney for the Plaintiff. It was received at the Clerk of Court’s Office on July 10 at 1:42 p.m.

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