Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Berkeley County Supervisor candidate and Moncks Corner Mayor Bill Peagler sat down with the Gazette and voters May 14 for coffee and a discussion of his candidacy during the first Coffee with the Candidates at the Corner Cafe in Moncks Corner.
Peagler has served the Town of Moncks Corner for 20 years. The last 10 years, he has served as mayor of the town. If elected to supervisor, a special election would follow after he steps down January 2015.
Peagler is one of three candidates vying for the Republican nomination during the June 10 primary.
His fellow Republican candidates will also take part in the Coffee with the Candidates series. Incumbent Supervisor Dan Davis will attend the event 6:30 p.m. May 21, and businessman Jerry Beckley will attend the event 6:30 p.m. May 28 at the Corner Cafť in Moncks Corner. The series is free and open to the public.
The following questions came from Gazette reporter Lindsay Street and the audience:
Why do you want to be Berkeley Countyís supervisor?
I became a lawyer because I like helping people. When I became a member of town council, I saw the effect I could have. When I became mayor, I saw that effect even more.
How will you transition from town government to county government?
I think theyíll enjoy the way we do budgeting on the city level. The way we do our budget is we bring it to the council members and bring department heads in and explain the budget. It says something about county government when Moncks Corner is giving cars to Berkeley County.
Will you help mend the 5-4 split on council, or will you be a part of it?
You have to include everybody in the process. My impression is that things in the budget are slashed behind closed doors. Iím a team builder and Berkeley County is our priority. If youíre a taxpayer, youíre my customer and I believe in customer satisfaction. We are all responsible to the taxpayer. Iím not going to say anything bad about Mr. Davis or Mr. Beckley. Iím running on my own merit and Iím not running a mud-slinging campaign. I just feel I can do a better job.
Moncks Corner has grown, but not with the explosive rate of many other portions of the county. How will you handle those larger population centers?
Moncks Corner did not get 25 percent bigger by us standing by. We annexed. It was forward-thinking on our part. You can only provide better service through growth. Thatís part of teambuilding.
Would you like to see more fee-based services provided by the county, or should that be covered in the budget?
If youíre charging for a service that you pay taxes to provide, itís not fair. I donít under stand the old divorce records fee. We already fund the Clerk of Court through taxes. Clerk of Court Mary Brown is my cousin, but I donít understand this fee. Theyíre funded.
The countyís seat is in Moncks Corner, so that means residents of Daniel Island or Hanahan have to drive nearly an hour to do business with the county. Should the county re-open the Goose Creek satellite office or expand online services?
Gas costs $3.50 a gallon and weíre asking those residents to spend their time and money to come up to Moncks Corner. But if you re-open the satellite office, you have to rent a building and put people down there, even if itís not busy. You can buy a whole lot of software for $7,000-$8,000. We need to come into the 21st century for doing things online.
What is Berkeley Countyís No. 1 problem?
Weíve got to market Berkeley County. New schools have to be funded somehow. We have to get businesses into Berkeley County. You have to create an environment to get business here. And you have to be on a team with the municipalities.
What would you have done differently with American LaFrance, which left a $650,000 debt to the county under a fee-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement?
For a fee-in-lieu-of-taxes to get to $650,000, someone wasnít keeping an eye on it. It is a priority to be paid. Either you pay it or you call in a tax collector. You got to fish or cut bait. Either way American LaFranceís inability to pay its debt cost 200 jobs in the county.
Berkeley County is saying it will eliminate transportation impact fees if voters extend the sales tax referendum in November. What are your thoughts on eliminating that impact fee?
Those fees were not explained adequately to council. If they knew it would have impacted small business, they would not have allowed that. The transportation impact fees should have been tied to new construction. Iím for removing impact fees that affect investment in Berkeley County. The transportation impact fees were an impediment to small business.
Should Berkeley County adopt an administration form of government instead of having an elected supervisor position?
Thatís a question for the voters, and Iím confident in the voters to make the best decision for Berkeley County.
What would you have done differently while Daniel Island was courting annexing to Charleston County?
We donít need to lose that tax revenue. When this was a problem before, former Supervisor Jim Rozier went down there door-to-door. Without Daniel Island, we would have to cut services. So first of all, you go to their meetings, and you hold meetings down there. You have to communicate with people. Weíre getting to the point where we should have council meetings around the county. Moncks Corner might be the best place in world but not everybody has that idea.
What do you think the impact of the Nexton development will be?
Thatís what you get when you cross an elephant with a rhino: Elephino. It would be great if it brings jobs like a manufacturing company that also uses other business services in the county. Thatís a trickle-down effect like with Alcoa.
There are two hot-button issues in the county right now that are dependent upon state legislature action: abandoned homes and the county not having the right to demolish, and the odor caused by the GenEarth plant and that falling under the jurisdiction of S.C. DHEC. What will you do to get these items moving forward?
Iím not familiar with the dilapidated houses problem. Thatís not the case in Moncks Corner. But on the GenEarth issue, I recommend the residents of Oakley Road get a lawyer and put an injunction on them. As far as what can government do? You have to work with DHEC. Somebody is answerable. Berkeley County is not a trash dump.
Free speech advocates recently took the county to task over its political sign ordinance. The county suspended enforcement, but will have to come up with a long-term solution. What should that solution be?
We have to have free speech, but you can regulate it by making it reasonable. In town, we have a 30-day time limit. We can take that approach to the county, but not dictate what those signs say.
What is your greatest weakness?
My wife. Sheís my best friend. I would not want to go through life without her. When I came close to losing her, I found out how much I needed her.