Beaufort County treasurer to consolidate, outsource services

September 13, 2011 

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Beaufort County Treasurer Doug Henderson announced Monday he is negotiating a contract with BB&T to consolidate financial services and outsource some functions.

For instance, Henderson told County Council that under existing policy, cash from the Treasurer's Office is taken for deposit by county employees driving their own vehicles.

The office handles about $22 million in payments each year, Henderson said after the meeting. During the busy tax-collection season, a daily deposit might be $500,000 or $1 million.

Henderson told council the procedure creates a "very dangerous situation" that he wanted to change as soon as possible after taking office July 1.

Under BB&T's contract, the bank will pick up deposits daily at each Treasurer's Office location, at a cost of about $25,000 a year.

Other provisions of the contract will impact taxpayers firsthand.

BB&T has agreed to accept property-tax payments at its branch locations. Payments sent by mail, which are currently directed to the Treasurer's Office, instead will be remitted to a bank post office box and processed by BB&T staff. Credit card transactions will be consolidated through the bank, which Henderson said will likely reduce fees charged to taxpayers.

The deal hasn't been signed yet, but Henderson said he hoped to wrap up final negotiation in the next two weeks.

Four banks -- BB&T, Bank of America, TD Bank and Wells Fargo -- submitted bids for the contract.

GOLF CART ACCESS BLOCKED

About 20 people representing the Lands End neighborhood on St. Helena Island gathered in council chambers to protest about boulders that have been placed on Wharf Road by the county Department of Public Works.

The boulders block golf cart access to the Beaufort River, which residents described as a favorite gathering spot.

"They have totally eliminated access for the numerous elderly and disabled in the neighborhood, some of whom are here this afternoon," said Steve Robison.

Robison said some have already filed complaints under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Residents said they feel singled out as a neighborhood because of a few complaints.

Cheryl Smith said she doesn't think the golf carts hurt the environment. In wet sand they do leave tire tracks, she said, but they are erased by the tide.

"At this point, the citizens at Lands End respectfully request the immediate removal of the boulders until such time as the state legislature passes a law making it illegal to ride a golf cart on a riverbank," Robison said.

One resident, Robert Clup, spoke in favor of the barriers and said vehicle traffic has become "ridiculous."

"In the first place, it originally started with just a few golf carts," Culp said. "Then it became 12-year-olds driving the golf carts. Then it became golf cart races about 8 to 10 o'clock at night when it's low tide. Then it became all-terrain vehicles, including a mini-tank."

IN OTHER COUNCIL ACTION:

  • Simon Fraser, chairman of the Heritage Classic Foundation board, presented council with a $250,000 check -- partial repayment for $1 million the county loaned the Heritage earlier this year to help put on the 2011 PGA Tour tournament on Hilton Head Island.

  • "We're happy to repay this," Fraser said. "We hope to be able to pay back the balance of this as quickly as possible, but we thought this would be a good start."

  • A proposal to hold a referendum in 2012 on whether to change the county's form of government so the auditor and treasurer can be elected was approved on a first reading on the consent agenda.

  • Follow reporter Kyle Peterson at twitter.com/EyeOnBeaufortCo.

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