County leaders urge state to fully support local government fund

SPARTANBURG COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – The sheriff and coroner in Spartanburg County say their employees – the people who keep your family safe – are underpaid.

“If you think about my business, it’s death all the time and they’re [employees] really special people,” said Spartanburg County Coroner Rusty Clevenger. “I employ people that have good hearts. Most first responders are people who have a genuine interest in helping the community.”

His employees have not had merit raises since 2009 higher pay looms overhead in the private sector.

“Council has been very gracious when the money did turn up to give an across the board raise which has been anywhere from two to three percent in spots. It hadn’t been every year,” said Clevenger. “It’s not always about the pay but when it’s continually year after year and they see friends who can afford something a little nicer or be able to give their children a little bit more.”

By law, state leaders are supposed to give municipalities a certain amount of money via the Local Government Fund.

“What the legislature has done not just this year but for many years in the past is that they will suspend that provision and tell the county sorry you’re not getting all your money this year,” said State Representative Steven Long. “The state requires counties to provide certain services like a voter registration officer.”

In Spartanburg County, Councilman Michael brown, who chairs the public safety and judiciary committee, says roughly $4 million dollars less each year has totaled about $27 million since 2009.

“It’s something we’ve dealt with now for the last several years,” said Brown. “To provide essential services for our citizens here in Spartanburg, we do need the funds we would say are owed to us.”

With a growing community he says council has the hard job of finding the money.

“No one wants to face increases in terms of fees or property taxes but I think that’s something council has to seriously take a look at,” said Brown.

It’s a serious concern Clevenger says needs to be addressed to help reward those serving Spartanburg County.

“I asked the people of Spartanburg to let me do a job. They’re very gracious to let me do it but I need help with my employees,” said Clevenger.

Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright penned his concerns on the Sheriff’s Office Facebook page as well. He says deputies need a pay raise that brings them to the normal starting pay for an agency of this size.

“The budget supposed to come back up before the house next week and I’ll be voting against the budget if it does not include that local government funding in there,” said Representative Long.

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