The Lowcountry Economic Alliance agreed Thursday to further change a set of proposed bylaws to allay concerns from Jasper County without compromising its goal of attracting private-sector investors.
The alliance is a partnership between Beaufort and Jasper counties whose goal is to win grants that fund job growth and diversification in the region. Amendments to bylaws can only take effect if both counties approve the changes.
The alliance drafted new rules that would bring at least 30 private sector members to the board who would be responsible for private fundraising. The counties would be allowed one board member each and provide funding based on population. County board members would also automatically get a seat on an executive committee but wouldn't be allowed to vote on that panel. The committee would help to set the agenda for the rest of the board, according to the proposed bylaws.
Beaufort County Council approved the amendments in November on a 9-1 vote. Although Jasper County Council has discussed the changes, board member and county councilman Martin Sauls said at the alliance meeting Thursday that his panel has five demands that must be addressed before the changes could be approved.
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Three of the demands asked the alliance to better explain how county funding responsibilities will be decided.
"We would like to know what the cost is before we vote on it," Sauls said.
The other two demands want the bylaws to allow county board members a vote on the executive committee and have some kind of authority on future bylaw changes.
After an hour of discussion, the alliance agreed to draft new amendments. Board member Dean Moss made a motion to include in the bylaws a mechanism to decide funding. It was a move that he said addresses the funding demands and "takes some of the tension away" from the remaining two.
Board Director Gregg Malphrus said the alliance will meet again in about a week to discuss the new bylaw draft. If the alliance approves the new set, it will go to Jasper and Beaufort county councils for another vote.
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