NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. (WJBF) – North Augusta city leaders looking to amend an ordinance that would change qualifications for city administrator, an ordinance that hasn’t been changed since 1977.
“The reality is it’s 2023 we’re the 22nd largest city we’ve grown by 14% in the last 10 years with 25,000 people. We need the best city administrator. In a perfect world do we want him or her to live in the city absolutely, but does that have to be a requirement today in 2023 I don’t think so,” said North Augusta Mayor Briton Williams.
In the current code of law for the city administrator position, the person hired has to live in North Augusta. City leader say they want to amend that requirement.
People raised concerns during Monday’s city council meeting about Jim Clifford, the city’s administrator living outside of city limits. Clifford was hired in 2020 and was serving in the military at the time.
“He was at fort Gordon and had his house and family established…with his church, his school, I think he does a great job and I’m in a lot of functions this city puts on and who’s there but Jim Clifford,” said council member Pat Carpenter.
Some people say the ordinance should stay the same. North Augusta’s attorney says most cities don’t require an administrator to live in the city.
“Basically what’s in this ordinance right here is that has to live in the city, but can live outside the city with the approval of council that’s where all these others are written,” said Kelly Zier, City Attorney.
Leaders say their main priority when they hire someone is to focus on their qualifications and what they can do for the city.
“Again this is not a surprise we probably should have done this several months ago before August and as Mayor I take the blame for that we’ve had a lot of priorities we’ve been working on and quite frankly this is important,” said Mayor Williams.
A second reading will take place October 16th, and council members will make a final decision.
“The ordinance has to be passed first and once the ordinance is passed we would then have to amend his contract,” said Mayor Williams.