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Gray Court council reverses course on LCDC funding

The Gray Court Town Council was to meet Tuesday night at a special called meeting at town hall, approving a budget item to fund the Laurens County Development Corporation after initially cutting most of its funding from the town’s budget.

Council also voted to approve a lease agreement with the S.C. Empowerment Centre, which is in the process of relocating to the town-owned Pleasantview Center.

Both votes at the called meeting were unanimous.

Council members voted 5-0 to approve a $690,500 budget at its June meeting, but that figure had cut most of its annual $10,000 funding of the LCDC. Gray Court would lose its seat on the LCDC Board of Directors with a cut in funding.

At the called meeting, council members voted on a line item in the budget to send an additional $7,500 to the LCDC.

The cities of Fountain Inn, Laurens and Clinton sit on the board along with Gray Court, which is the smallest of the county’s municipalities on the 17-member body. Had the Gray Court council cut the LCDC’s funding, the town would have lost its seat on the board.

At council’s June 21 meeting, LCDC President and CEO Jonathan Coleman urged council members to remain on the board prior to the budget vote, but the council passed the budget without public discussion by council members and without a time for public comment as required by state law.

During a work session prior to the June meeting, Coleman laid out the benefits Gray Court had received from the LCDC, which is funded primarily through fee-in-lieu-of-taxes agreements it generates with local industry. Coleman said the LCDC has helped bring more than 3,000 jobs and over $1 billion in investments to Gray Court. He said he also anticipates a record year in 2021 that could total $252 million in investments and 539 jobs in the town.

The S.C. Empowerment Centre asked for council members to move forward on a previous agreement that would allow the nonprofit agency to move into a new permanent home at Pleasantview Center.

Council directed that the contract with the Empowerment Centre to be executed by July 1.

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