Mayor denies conflict of interest as head of water company

Published: Jan. 27, 2011 at 1:24 AM EST|Updated: Jan. 27, 2011 at 11:08 PM EST
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(Source: Herald Independent, Winnsboro)
(Source: Herald Independent, Winnsboro)

By Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield - bio | email

JENKINSVILLE, SC (WIS) - You may not think twice about water, but it has become a bit of a controversial issue in part of Fairfield County.  

A packed meeting last week in Jenkinsville was supposed to be a time to elect a board of trustees for the water company the area uses. The man running it, the company's president, is also the town's mayor. Customers are worried there is a conflict of interest.

New York transplant Jeff Schaffer pays about $50 a month for his Fairfield County water bill. "Lake Monticello is a wonderful area, great community we have," said Schaffer

It's not the bill that Schaffer says bothers him, it's what's happening down the pipe at the Jenkinsville Water Company. Last week, he joined a room full of water customers at a packed meeting all wanting in on who would be on the board of trustees for the area's only water company.

"I wish I could be the judge and jury on whether it's a legal thing or an ethical thing," said Schaffer. "I think it's a confused thing.  All I want is some answers."

That may be because of what his neighbor, Joe Pilon, tells him. Pilon is on the board of trustees, and has questions about last week's election of new board members. "Several people passing hats so we don't know if we have exactly who filled out ballots or not," said Pilon. "It got so chaotic and board members walked out."

He says the head of the company, Gregory Guinyard, passed his own hat to collect the votes for board member nominees, including himself. "I was picking ballots up," he said.

Guinyard says what he was doing was perfectly acceptable. He even had an attorney oversee the process. "He was there to make sure election was done in the proper way," said Guinyard. "He had Robert's Rules [of Order] in hand, by-laws in hand to make sure everything was conducted properly."

Guinyard is a man of several hats. He is also Jenkinsville's mayor. "The two positions are not, they don't intertwine at no point, couldn't be a conflict of interest," said Guinyard. "They're two separate entities total."

Pilon says he plans to resign from the board. Guinyard says he's running a clean business and will answer questions.

Copyright 2011 WIS. All rights reserved.Copyright 2011 WIS. All rights reserved.