Wednesday, April 24, 2013
In the case of Berkeley County Council and the appointment of Catherine Windham as Clerk of Council, the third time was the charm as council unanimously approved Windham’s appointment during its Monday night meeting.
Windham, who has held the position of Interim Clerk since July 2011, allowed a smile for the first time in over a month.
“I’m just proud to serve the citizens of Berkeley County,” she said after the meeting. “I’m just glad the issue is settled.”
The dispute over Windham’s appointment began during the March 25 meeting of county council when Vice Chairman Dennis Fish sought to appoint Windham, but Supervisor Dan Davis blocked the appointment, saying first the item was never on the agenda, and then saying he had issues with the appointment as he believed the clerk position reported to him.
Fish believed the clerk, since it is appointed by council, fell under the authority of the vice chairman.
Fish also saw to it that Windham received all the pay benefits of the position and did not miss any lost pay or benefits while serving as an interim clerk.
“Catherine has been acting in this position since July 2011,” Fish said. “I think she is highly qualified to do this position and congratulations are due for a job well done.”
The two sides could not come to an agreement and each sought legal counsel on the matter.
After a meeting involving Supervisor Davis and council members Tim Callanan and Ken Gunn, plus county attorney Nicole Scott Ewing and attorney Josh Whitley, it was agreed the clerk would fall under the supervision of council, with a liaison serving between the clerk and the supervisor’s office.
Callanan said the appointment of the liaison, adding these duties to a paralegal from Ewing’s office would actually eliminate a position and thereby be an overall savings to the taxpayers.
Davis, Callanan and other members of council were pleased the situation had been resolved through negotiations and in the spirit of cooperation between the supervisor and council.
“I’m glad we were able to resolve this through negotiation between council and my office,” he said. “It’s always better when you can work together and resolve differences through cooperation and negotiation.”
“We’ve come a long way from where we were four or five months ago,” Callanan added.
• In other council business, the first reading of the 2013-2014 budget was read into the record with Fish proposing an amendment to keep the Berkeley County Water and Sanitation budget separate from the Berkeley County budget.
“They are two separate entities in how they operate and collect funds,” Fish said. “In the past council always finds a way to comingle these funds and I’d like to see these remain separate and independent.”
The supervisor commented that the two budgets are kept separate but are simply combined in a single ordinance in order to save time.
“We merely combined them into one ordinance so we could save time reading them into the record,” he said. “They have and will remain separate budgets.”