Editorial: Sending A Message

Almost everyone can agree that economic development and bringing it to our county is important. We all want our county to progress and grow, and we want our county to wisely invest their dollars into things that can make growth happen and broaden our tax base.
At a recent meeting of the Dillon County Council, Mike Tyler of the Dillon County Public-Private Partnership appeared before council to ask the council to give the partnership $50,000 to continue their work. Simply stated, this is a bad idea.
Mr. Tyler believes that the council committed to give the partnership $25,000 per year, funds that he said they have not received since 2016. He produced no paperwork or county council meeting minutes which shows this commitment was made by council at some point. Also, one would think that if a group believed that council committed to giving them $25,000 a year that it wouldn’t take nearly three years for that group to show up and ask for it. This is the first bad sign. It shows no one is following up on important matters.
The partnership has not received any funds since 2016 because they have not been included in the county budget. Although this year’s budget was well-advertised and a public hearing was held, at no time during this process did Mr. Tyler appear before this council to make a request to be included in the budget or to inquire as to where the funds they thought they were entitled to were. The time prior to the passage of the 2019-2020 budget would have been the appropriate time to make such a large monetary request.
Since the board’s inception nearly a decade ago, with the exception of a bright spot in 2016 when they seemed to be making some progress with workforce development, this board has accomplished virtually nothing. Even during his presentation when asked, Mr. Tyler said there was not one project to which the board could credit their name. Over the years, council has poured at least $75,000 (according to the county office) into this board, and they have produced no real results. Why would or should council invest one more dime into a group that has yielded virtually nothing?
In past appearances before council with other members, past problems are cited as the reason for the lack of progress, sometimes even personality conflicts noted, and always things are going to be different this time.
Mr. Tyler said at this meeting they would continue to work hard and start showing progress that they have not shown in the past.
In almost 10 years, this board has not even become self-sustaining. Instead of coming to council asking for money, they should at this point, be reporting to council about the money they are bringing in. This is simply not happening.
There are some different board members than in past years, and there are some very fine people on this board—people who had to prove themselves working in their professions before becoming a success.It should be no surprise to these members that they are going to have to prove this board is still worthy of support.
Before the council comes in and doubles the total funds that the public and private sides of this board have on hand and gives more funds to a board that has shown little or no achievement, this board needs to use the funds they have available to prove themselves and prove things really are different this time. Perhaps they could put some funds in an interest bearing account which would at least help grow their money in some measure.
Then if by budget time next year, if things really are different and if they have some measure of achievement or success that they can point to, then perhaps council should consider giving them some amount of funding to continue their work. Certainly, they shouldn’t go back and give back-due funds the board didn’t come to bother to check on for nearly three years. This board has produced virtually nothing and is owed nothing because they were too lax to follow up.
The council should deny this request until the board shows some real sustained progress. Until then, any available funds for economic development should go directly to the Dillon County Office of Economic Development.
Mr. Tyler and this board have some work to do to show they are not singing the same old song and telling the same old story. Mr. Tyler said this council should send a message, and they should.
The message should be that the council is not going to continue to fund and give away hard-earned tax dollars to boards that don’t produce results.

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