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  • Paul Shewmaker

Protecting Progress: The Battle Over Ordinance 2018-07 in Simpsonville


I'm worried. In our tranquil town of Simpsonville, a political storm is brewing, quietly gaining momentum among certain candidates for city council and the mayor's office. Their primary objective: to repeal Ordinance 2018-07, which stipulates that five concurring votes of council members are required to hire or fire the City Administrator or Department Heads. (Don't let them tell you the mayor doesn't get to vote. I AM a member of Council.)


At first glance, this may seem like a minor administrative issue, but the implications of this proposed change are far-reaching and potentially devastating. The driving force behind this movement is to remove City Administrator Gracely, a respected and effective public servant who has significantly contributed to the city's growth and prosperity.


The Importance of Ordinance 2018-07

Ordinance 2018-07, while seemingly mundane, plays a crucial role in maintaining accountability and stability within local government. By requiring a substantial vote for hiring and firing key city officials, it ensures that these decisions are made with careful consideration and the consensus of your elected representatives. This ordinance has acted as a safeguard against politically motivated personnel changes that could harm the city's interests.


City Administrator Gracely's Remarkable Contributions

Administrator Gracely has been a cornerstone of Simpsonville's recent success. Over her five years in this position, she has brought in nearly $20 million in grants and outside funding into the city's coffers, which has enabled the implementation of numerous beneficial projects and programs. Furthermore, she has overseen the growth of the fund balance from $8 million to an impressive $18 million, demonstrating her exceptional financial management skills.


Moreover, Administrator Gracely is well-respected not just locally but across the state, well-connected, and a trusted figure in government service and offices. Her dedication and expertise have left a lasting impact on Simpsonville, with her fingerprints all over the positive developments that the city has witnessed in recent years.


The Consequences of Repealing Ordinance 2018-07

The proposed repeal of Ordinance 2018-07, coupled with the removal of Administrator Gracely, raises serious concerns about the future of Simpsonville. Such a move would jeopardize the city's stability and reputation, potentially causing long-lasting harm. It is imperative to consider what might happen if the best city administrator in the state is forced to leave her position. Hiring a new administrator with decent talent or experience would be impossible. The best folks wouldn't even apply. Experienced city administrators don't want to work for a capricious council. Somebody would take the job of course, but they wouldn't be any good.


Our recent success in attracting businesses would be at risk. Investment in the community is directly impacted by the behavior of our council and city staff. We have a great city staff, but removing this incredible leader would cause an exodus of our most talented people.


Simpsonville's Best Interests

While change can be beneficial, the proposed shift in city administration appears to be driven by motives that would undermine the progress Simpsonville has made in recent years. It is essential for voters to scrutinize the intentions of these candidates who advocate for repealing Ordinance 2018-07. Do they truly have the best interests of Simpsonville at heart, or are they pursuing personal agendas?


In Conclusion

Simpsonville is at a crossroads. The potential repeal of Ordinance 2018-07 and the removal of City Administrator Gracely, a respected and capable leader, could have far-reaching implications for the city's future. I'm not worried about Dianna Gracely—or me—we'll both be fine. I'm worried about Simpsonville. Please carefully assess these candidates' motivations and consider the potential consequences of their actions before casting your vote. Maintaining a dedicated and effective administrator like Dianna Gracely is crucial for the continued growth and success of Simpsonville, ensuring that the city remains on a path of progress and prosperity rather than returning to the days of dissension and instability.


Mayor Shewmaker

 

A summary of the impact of Dianna Gracely:


Financial Accomplishments

  • Secured CCNB as Naming Sponsor for Amphitheatre $50,000/annually – and renewed for additional 3 years – valued at $300,000 over six years

  • $500,000 Appalachian Regional Commission grant for Arts Center Renovation

  • Secured $442,000 matching funds for $2.8 million Federal Highway Administration earmark for West Georgia Road improvements at no cost to City

  • Secured $1,700,000 in C-Funds for resurfacing of Highway 417 between Bell Drive and Mayfield Road

  • $2,000,000 C-Fund Allocation for Downtown Revitalization Project

  • Improved Bond Ratings with Moody’s and S&P and secured additional funds at bond issuance for same annual debt service presented to Council at Retreat

  • Completed Bond Issuances to fund Downtown Revitalization and Municipal Complex Projects, both at interest rates of 2%

  • Increased fund balanced substantially each year since coming to Simpsonville:

6/30/18 $ 8,696,746.97

6/30/19 $10,840,027.14

6/30/20 $13,446,543.09

6/30/21 $15,458,415.07

6/30/22 $18,241,000.00

  • Implemented Capital Reserve Account to prepare City for Capital Expenditures

  • Introduced Sewer Capacity Fees on new development to stabilize sewer fund balance

  • $350,000 Permanent Improvement Project Grant for Senior Center Renovation

  • Received waiver of $100,000 Sewer Impact Fee from ReWa for new 4” meter at Amphitheatre

  • Secured $500,000 RIA Grant for Sewer Rehabilitation

  • Secured $10 million-dollar SCIIP Grant for Sewer Rehabilitation

  • Secured $1 million in direct State Budget allocation for Downtown Revitalization Project

  • Secured $25,000 Grant from MASC for Downtown Archway

  • Total of $19,617,000 in outside funding in 5 ½ years with the City

Other Accomplishments

  • Rebranding

  • Gateway Signage

  • Downtown Master Plan

  • Alleyway Restroom and Improvements

  • Created vibrant Arts Center

  • Mural Projects

  • Phase I of Swamp Rabbit Trail and working to secure easements for Phase II

  • Downtown Revitalization Project Design Underway

  • Municipal Complex and City Park Improvements construction underway

  • Public Works Enterprise Fund established and sanitation back in house

  • Classification & Compensation Plan and adjustments, starting with public safety at a critical time

  • Unparalleled redevelopment of Central Business District and economic development City-wide

  • Sale of City Hall property for unique redevelopment opportunity

  • Cooperative Project with Greenville County to build Summary Court with office space for Municipal Court employees

  • Lease agreements for downtown parking

  • Summer Music Series and Food Truck Rodeo




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