COLUMBIA – Richland County’s elected body approved a settlement agreement with the state revenue agency on July 13 to end a dispute over penny tax expenditures, although the terms of the The potential deal is not finalized and will not be public until the deal is done.
The move comes after council has considered a potential settlement privately in several meetings since July over state allegations the county mis-spent some $ 32 million in money generated by a penny tax. for voters of the road projects approved in 2012.
The county council reconvened behind closed doors on July 13 in its first council chamber meeting since the COVID-19 pandemic to continue discussing the potential settlement and other issues. When the members returned, they passed City Councilor Overture Walker’s motion to approve a settlement agreement with SCDOR “as presented in executive session and authorize the county administrator (Leonardo Brown) to perform the same”.
Council members are not asking for any changes from the state and are no longer anticipating back and forth before a deal is finalized, City Councilor Allison Terracio told The Post and Courier.
A spokesperson for the Revenue Department confirmed in June that the agency made a settlement offer to the county and first received news from the county on June 17. The county council’s vote to approve a settlement agreement on July 13 was the first time the item had been on the council’s agenda since then.
Any agreement still needs to be signed by both parties.
âUltimately, there is no signed agreement between the Revenue Department and Richland County,â Brown told The Post and Courier on July 15. âThe two sides continue to have discussions and try to reach a resolution apart from the ongoing litigation on the matter.
Ahead of the July 13 vote, City Councilor Bill Malinowski countered that council should instead follow the route advised by county prosecutors, a proposal his colleagues have ignored. Malinowski declined to comment on the settlement process, calling it ongoing negotiations.
Council Chairman Paul Livingston and acting county attorney Elizabeth McLean also declined to comment on the potential deal. McLean said an outcome document could be made public once finalized.
State tax authorities ordered the county in July 2020 to repay the $ 32 million in tax funds they say the county over-spent on project managers, public relations work, legal work and a mentoring program. Richland County challenged that decision in August 2020 in administrative court and a decision is pending, according to court records.
Clarification: This story has been updated to clarify the status of the settlement agreement.