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Richland Co. Council quiet about potential misspent $40 million

After the Council's first meeting since WLTX reported serious concerns over $40 million in spending, Council offered few new details

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Richland County Council met for the first time on Tuesday night since WLTX reported a preliminary audit report raised serious questions about more than $40 million in penny tax spending, according to Representative Kirkman Finlay.

On Monday, Rep. Finlay (R, Richland) told WLTX he saw a preliminary South Carolina Department of Revenue (SCDOR) audit report, which he claims questioned more than $40 million in penny tax spending.

Neither Richland County nor the SCDOR have made the preliminary report public or discussed its content. The SCDOR told WLTX it provided the County a copy of the report in response to WLTX's open records request for the document.

Rep. Finlay said he was only able to review a copy of the report, but had also filed open records requests to receive his own copy.

On Tuesday night, the preliminary report was not mentioned in the open meeting nor discussed publicly. However, Council met for more than an hour in an executive session.

The ongoing legal battle between the SCDOR and Richland County on penny tax spending was one of the issues discussed in the executive session.

After the meeting adjourned, many members of Council told WLTX they could not comment.

"I cannot comment specifically about anything that was provided in executive session, as we're currently in litigation with DOR. So, everything is protected by attorney-client privilege currently. But, just know that my call and my battle cry is transparency and the protection of the taxpayer and it will continue to be, even through this," said Councilman Joe Walker.

Walker said he also could not confirm the $40 million amount. 

RELATED: $40 million of Richland County penny tax money may have been misspent, lawmaker says

Other council members also would not give specifics.

"No I don't as a matter of fact, one of the things we were instructed very clearly tonight to do is to allow the attorneys to address this issue and not offer any comments on it," said Councilman Chip Jackson.

"You gotta ask Mr. Finlay about that. Only thing I can tell you is that we have a preliminary report and I think it's important for us to wait till we- our attorney and our staff look at the preliminary report and give us feedback," said Chairman Paul Livingston.

Other members offered no comment.

"No I don't. That's a matter of litigation, no comment," said Councilman Jim Manning.

"No I don't have a response, it's in litigation, and I have no response, thank you," said Councilwoman Yvonne McBride.

Council members Bill Malinowski and Gwendolyn Kennedy also said they had no comment.

RELATED: Team managing Richland County Penny Tax hits back at recent County decisions, criticism

RELATED: Richland County Council meeting ends with few details on recent Penny Tax discussion

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