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Rock Hill Fire And Police Services To Stay

July 23, 2004
In his last official legislative act, Rock Hill Mayor Robert Salamone insured that the city would not lose its fire or police department.

After a 90-minute closed session, the Rock Hill Board of Aldermen voted unanimously to not "contract with another municipality or government body for police or fire protection."

In three related actions, the board voted 4-1 to:

appoint Don Cary as acting city administrator effective Aug. 3, and interim city clerk until the position of assistant city clerk is filled;

create the position of public safety administrator, eliminating police and fire positions;

appoint Fire Chief John Kriska as public safety administrator.

Board Member Ed Johnson voted "no" to these actions, saying that he did not have the appropriate information to make an informed decision. Board Member Sheri McCann was absent.

During the meeting, Johnson said he had asked Cary last month for a copy of the budget numbers for the first quarter of this fiscal year.

"I thought we would have the information by now," Johnson said.

Salamone took the blame, saying that he had asked Cary and Tina Capriglione to get the figures to keep the city solvent past 2010. Salamone said Cary is also working with the auditors.

"We should get enough feedback so we can make a decision," Johnson said. "We're talking about where we're going in the next few years, when we can't say what we've done in the last three or four months."

Cary apologized, saying he had been in meetings and talking with residents much of the day.

Johnson also reiterated his complaint about meeting minutes not being available to the public in "a timely manner."

Board Member Matt Knuckles said one of the biggest problems is people wanting copies of city documents.

"They come in and Don has to stop his work to make these copies," Knuckles said. "I've been up here answering phones and helping. These people are busy and haven't had time to transcribe the minutes."

Before adjourning to closed session, Cary asked that the board consider asking City Attorney Ken Heinz to draft an ordinance rescinding pay increases for the mayor and board of aldermen, and to freeze employee wages, except for a 1.5 percent cost of living increase, through 2007.

The board did not act on these motions.

In an interview after the meeting, Johnson said, "Don gave a report in February that has a summary showing how we're doing compared to the budget. That was all I was asking for."

When asked about the status of now-former police chief Terry Goode who has been on medical leave for the past few months, Salamone said he could not comment because it was a personnel matter.

In a telephone interview, Cary told the Times that the reason the board did not act on the matters he proposed was because they wanted more detail from the mayor's June 9 report on how the department reorganizations would work.

"The mayor and board make $275 a month. Should the ordinance go through, the board's pay would return to $185 that had been increased after the last election," Cary said. "There was an increase scheduled for the mayor after the next election, but there would be no increase."

Regarding his appointment to city administrator and its duration, Cary said it is his understanding is that it is a temporary situation.

"The board will be making a decision on whether to redefine the position. "We will look for an assistant city clerk to type the minutes from the board meetings and be a public contact point for information."

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