jtatum@journalscene.com

After some intense discussion, Dorchester County Council overhauled Tuesday the county's penny sales-tax authority.

The Dorchester County Sales Tax Transportation Authority, or DCTA, was created to administer sales tax revenues for road projects. Originally created in 2005, each council member has one appointment to the DCTA, subject to approval by a majority council vote. There is no requirement that an appointee be a resident of the council district of the member making the appointment.

In 2011, the council added two "at large" members that are appointed by majority vote.

Tuesday, the council unanimously passed third and final reading of an ordinance that reduced the number of serving members back to seven.

This action appears to be largely underpinned by problems that have plagued the Dorchester Road project almost since it started. Several citizens appeared at the beginning of the meeting to air concerns about the project.

But then council took another step.

After some discussion back and forth, including input from county attorney John Frampton, council passed a motion to remove all present appointees from the DCTA and subsequently reappoint the entire authority, one by one, by an up or down majority vote.

The motion was met with some discussion, with Councilman Larry Hargett noting that he is satisfied with his present appointment to the authority and concerned that his preferred candidate for appointment is not guaranteed reappointment by this process.

"I cannot support the motion," he said.

Councilman David Chinnis, however, made it plain that he is dissatisfied with the present state of affairs and said he believes that members of the authority seem to have lost sight of the fact that they are appointed by and therefore responsible to the council as well as the taxpayers of Dorchester County.

The council passed the motion 5-2, with Chair Bill Hearn, George Bailey, Jay Byars, Chinnis and Carroll Duncan voting in favor. Willie Davis and Hargett voted against it.

The removals and subsequent reappointments will occur at the council's Sept. 15 meeting, to be effective the next day.