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Calhoun County passes ordinance calling for referendum to vote on new government

Voters will have the chance to vote on the change in the November ballot. If voters vote in favor, the change will go into effect in January.

CALHOUN COUNTY, South Carolina — Calhoun County has passed an ordinance calling for a referendum allowing voters to decide on whether to change the county's form of government to a council-administrator form of government.

Calhoun County is currently under a council form of government.

“There are six counties that have this form of government out of 46 and two, I think, now are in the process of changing," said council chair James Haigler, "That tells you something right there. That tells me something right there. Why are we always last or we always best because we don’t do it. Let’s give the folks a chance.”

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County administrator John McLauchlin says the main difference in the new proposed government is that the administrator would handle the county's day-to-day operations.

In a council meeting on Monday, some residents from the Sandy Run area voiced worries about how this change could affect future developments.

“Right now, at the forefront of our mind is zoning, and so with this particular change, what we’re concerned about is the county council administrator being able to promise something to another developer or another investor coming into the county," said one resident.

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In response, the council said decisions made about any developments would first need to be reviewed by the planning commission who decides whether or not to make a recommendation to the full council.

Councilman Ken Westbury says he feels the new proposed government would be more effective than the current one.

“It makes efficient, and more effective form of government than it is without. If somebody walks in, they need something done immediately, they don’t have to say well we need to wait on council to meet, and waiting on folk, he said.

Councilman John Nelson shared his thoughts about keeping the current council form of government.

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“I don’t think the current system is broken so I’m a little against it but I am a big believer in referendum in general so I’m torn a little bit about this," he said.

Voters will have the chance to vote on the change in the November ballot. If voters vote in favor, the change will go into effect in January.

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