Editor's note: This is the first in a three-part series in which the Aiken Standard asks local elected officials what their goals will be in 2014. Today's article focuses on Aiken County Council.
The new year is right around the corner, and Aiken County Council members have a variety of issues and projects that they want to tackle in 2014. The following is a list of Council members and their plans and goals for next year.
“My goals for 2014 are to continue to work to create jobs for our citizens. Aiken County continues to be a leader in economic development with great companies such as Kimberly-Clark, Bridgestone, Tognum, etc. leading the way. We will complete the new Government Center by early spring, and that will make doing business in Aiken County much more convenient – a one-stop shop for most Aiken County citizens. I also want to continue to provide adequate services and a good quality of life for all Aiken County citizens. Aiken County is envied by our peers, and we intend to keep it that way.”
“One, I want to provide quality service to the citizens in Aiken County and keep taxes as reasonable as possible. I want to continue to seek industries and businesses to locate in Aiken County to create jobs and allow citizens to shop locally. I also want to continue working to make our emergency medical system the best it can be and to continue to lower the animal euthanizing rate at the County Animal Shelter.”
“My goals for 2014 are to ensure we complete and occupy our new administration building and the Animal Shelter, to encourage our staff to implement our new procurement policy and to continue giving timely and effective constituent services.
“At this writing (Dec. 13), the KBR Corp., the prime contractor for constructing the administration building, has spent or is committed to spend more than $30 million in constructing the administration building with less than $30,000 being spent with minority contractors. We have to do better than that if we are to have a level playing field and be fair to all contractors in the marketplace.
“Further, it has been reported to me that minority contractors were not given a chance to bid on the second-tier portion of the $30 million worth of contracts. This has been a shameful experience for me. We have to do better if ethnic parity is a goal worth achieving. I will encourage Council to demand an equal playing field for all Aiken County citizens.”
“In 2014 I will work with administration to get the last of the roads on Capital Projects Sales Tax round II list paved and to begin the expansion of Roy Warner Park in Wagener based on the design which has been completed. Sales Tax II is a continuation of my last year's goals. I will continue to work with the chairman to support economic development and the growth of new jobs. I will continue to work for a more effective and efficient government to provide better services to our citizens, especially emergency medical services. I am very happy that my 2013 goal, the completion of our new County Animal Shelter, is only a few weeks from happening.”
“I think the most exciting upcoming event will be the move into the new government center. This will allow Aiken County citizens to accomplish most of their County business all in one location without having to go to numerous places around Aiken. It will also allow our dedicated County employees to get out of the old, outdated former hospital building and into a new, safer environment. I will also continue to work to bring economic development and additional jobs to Aiken County.”
“My goals for 2014 include occupying the new Aiken County Complex with a seamless transition for citizens and continuing to promote Aiken County as great community for business opportunities. (I'll) promote conditions and incentives for industry to locate bringing new job opportunities. I'll work to create new missions at Savannah River Site encouraging small business opportunities, and keep safety, law enforcement and County services at the top of my priority list.”
“We need to continue diversifying our economic base in order to reduce our reliance on SRS by making strategic investments in infrastructure. I would also like us to further enhance our oversight capability with the goal of improving service delivery. Finally, I want to improve our benefits and compensation package by rewarding outstanding performance and reducing unfunded liabilities.”
“I really want to focus on economic development in the coming year. We need to find new ways to attract new business and industry to Aiken County. With that comes not only more jobs but a better standard of living for our residents.”
“I'd like to keep taxes at a minimum. I'd like to continue trying to eliminate wasteful spending, and I'd like to work toward improving EMS services for the benefit of the taxpayers, as well as the employees. I'd like to have a smooth transition into the new County office complex that would not disrupt taxpayer services. Lastly, we need to do whatever we can to bring more jobs into Aiken County, which helps offset tax increases.”
Amy Banton is the County reporter for the Aiken Standard and has been with the publication since May 2010.