The Laurens County Council will go into the next two years with the same leadership from the precious two.
At a special meeting prior to its first regular meeting of 2023 Tuesday, council members voted to grant second terms to Chairman Brown Patterson and Vice-Chairman Jeff Carroll. The chair and vice-chair of county council are elected by council members every two years.
“We’ve been blessed with a great team of seven council members and a great team of employees from the top all the way to the bottom,” said Patterson. “We (on council) don’t always get along, but we always support the outcomes of the whole and continue to make this county better and better every day. The key to it is having that great team, and it’s a pleasure to work with them all for the betterment of Laurens County.”
With the election done and two more years as chair and four more years on council following November’s election, Patterson said he has outline a few goals for the immediate future, including improved communication among the county and its municipalities and continuing to evaluate capital needs for the county.
The Capital Project Sales Tax, which added a 1-cent sales tax for most purchases in the county via referendum in 2018, took care of some capital projects, but several of them are already under way.
“We want to make sure before the end of the year, all the CPST projects have begun moving dirt,” Patterson said. “We’ve been blessed that revenues are above projections.”
Sixteen projects were approved by voters, and one of the largest – an agricultural center and venue – is set to begin construction in Laurens pending final approval from council.
But Patterson said there is more to be done to the county’s infrastructure. There is a costly, ongoing battle to keep roads and bridges operational and the county’s law enforcement center and emergency services buildings are aging.
“We’re going to continue to re-evaluate and prioritize other capital needs in the county,” he said. “There’s still a need for an updated law enforcement center and updated (Emergency Operations Center) facilities, and we have to continue to evaluate our EMS needs throughout the county and updating our roral stations as needed.”
Patterson said he also expects council to take on what has been a controversial step in the county’s 10-year-old Comprehensive Plan, which called for land-use planning to help manage industrial and residential growth.
“We will be updating (the comprehensive plan) and public meetings on that will be announced very soon,” Patterson said. “I’m eager to see public input on the land use portion of the comprehensive plan.”