Councilwoman Leona Plaugh opposes ‘open-ended' agreement - - Columbia, South Carolina |

Councilwoman Leona Plaugh opposes ‘open-ended' agreement

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Councilwoman Leona Plaugh Councilwoman Leona Plaugh

An intergovernmental agreement isn't heard of too often because most municipalities help each other as needed. But that's no longer the case.

During Tuesday's Columbia City Council meeting, an agreement between the city and Lake City became a reality, despite one councilwoman's concern about the cost.

Lake City is in Florence County and is considered a rural area. Mayor Steve Benjamin said the city needs to explore how it can help develop rural areas in the state.

The contract states the two councils will join forces to "share knowledge and resources to promote the interests" of both areas. South Carolina law states two municipalities may enter into such agreements to perform governmental services or activities.

Councilwoman Leona Plaugh expressed dislike with the contract, stating it was not clear on what services will be provided.

"The purpose is actually to formalize a real agreement between the largest city in the state and one of the smallest towns in the state that quite frankly are doing some things that no other towns in the state are doing," Benjamin said, describing this as a "very deliberate attempt" to build relationships.

In addition, she asked Benjamin and City Manager Teresa Wilson how much it would cost to enter this agreement in the form of staff time.

Wilson said she would have to get with former city manager Steve Gantt to find out a cost, since he started this agreement with Lake City. Gantt is working with the city until June.

"This is so open-ended. I really don't know how would we know if we fulfilled their expectations or not," Plaugh said.

Wilson added that this agreement could serve as a model for the S.C. Municipal Association to show how governments collaborate to develop in their areas since it's the first of its kind.

The agreement passed council 6-1, with Plaugh opposing. The agreement is for one year and can be renewed at that time. Lake City's council will vote on the agreement at its next meeting.

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