Archived Story

Voting method, fee change subjects of hearings

Published 5:19pm Monday, July 15, 2013

Two public hearings, one concerning a proposed option to the limited-voting method to elect commissioners and the other concerning proposed changes to Beaufort County’s animal-control ordinances, are scheduled for 7 p.m. Aug. 5.

The hearings will be conducted by the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners during its regular August meeting.

The proposed option, submitted to the board by the Beaufort County Limited Voting Committee with a 6-2 vote of endorsement, recommends that in elections when four seats on the seven-member board are open for election, that voters are allowed to vote for two candidates, and in elections when three seats on the board are up for grabs, voters may vote for only one candidate. That plan is derived from a study in 2007.
The panel considered two other options. One option retained the current seven-member configuration but with commissioners elected from districts (one commissioner per district) across the county. The other option called for four commissioners to be elected from districts, with one commissioner elected from each district. That option provided for three commissioners to be elected at-large across the county.
Since 1991, Beaufort County voters have used limited voting to elect commissioners. The method was imposed on the county by an order from a federal judge. The judge issued the order to enforce an agreement between county leaders and a group of black residents concerning the system of electing commissioners.
Under limited voting, a voter may vote for only one candidate no matter how many seats on the seven-member board are up for grabs in any election to choose board members. Currently, four board members are elected every four years, with three board members elected every four years. The two elections are held two years apart, providing staggered four-year terms for the commissioners.

Proposed changes to the county’s animal-control ordinance call for increasing some fees that Beaufort County Animal Control charges for services it provides.

One proposed change increases the reclamation fee — charged when someone claims an animal that’s been housed at the Betsy Bailey Nelson Animal Control Facility after it’s been picked up by animal-control officers — from $15 to $25. Another proposed change would increase the boarding fee from $5 a day to $8 a day.

A proposal to increase the fee for use of the department’s incinerator (used to dispose of dead animals) by an outside entity from 90 cents per pound to $150 per pound to dispose of material was rejected. Instead, it was replaced by a proposal that an outside entity would pay $100 to use the incinerator.

Operating the incinerator is costly, county officials have been told.

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