Peagler wraps up first week, says no second round of firings

Berkeley County Supervisor Bill Peagler

Wrapping up his first week in office, Berkeley County Supervisor Bill Peagler said he has gotten off to a great start.

As one of his first actions, Peagler replaced seven longtime department heads, tweaking job titles and descriptions. In total, their salaries are $32,262 less than the previous employees' earnings, according to information provided to The Post and Courier.

He will continue to look for ways to streamline county services and cut taxes, Peagler said. He added that there will be no more firings.

"This does not mean we are planning a second round of replacements," he said. "That rumor is completely false."

The new employees "have hit the ground running to do their part to bring our goals to fruition," he said.

One of the biggest savings is in the position of county engineer. Frank Carson, who worked for the county for 23 years, was paid an annual salary of $122,885, but new engineer Thomas Lewis will receive $83,500. Lewis was formerly the resident engineer for the South Carolina Department of Transportation in Berkeley County.

Also, Peagler eliminated the Information and Technology director position held by Chip Boling, who was paid $108,714. Boling also handled county communications. Public information officer Michael Mule, Peagler's former political consultant, is the new county public information officer and director of customer support. His salary is $89,368, the same salary formerly earned by Ed Rogers as director of customer support for Water and Sanitation.

"The salaries were based on experience and intimate knowledge of the tasks at hand," Peagler said. "They needed to be competitive, as these professionals all had successful careers in place. But all of these professionals understand and share my vision to make government more cost-effective."

In addition, Peagler restructured the chain of command so that just six employees report directly to him, instead of the 18 who reported to former Supervisor Dan Davis.

"I'm not a micro-manager," Peagler said. "I'm a businessman who trusts the folks we have put in place to lead their respective efforts."

Much of his first week also was spent in meetings with employees and business and community leaders, getting a feel for how things have been done in the past and how they might be improved, he said. He also led a County Council reorganization meeting that lasted six minutes.

"When I said that I want to work as a team with my administration, county employees, County Council and other leaders, I meant it," he said.

Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or @brindge on Twitter.