Mayor Collins grabs reins as Summerville manager

Bill Collins

SUMMERVILLE — Three weeks after taking the oath of office, Mayor Bill Collins took over the town. Collins on Monday was given “temporary authority” to act as town administrator in a stunning moment that quieted a room full of town employees and civic leaders.

The move, by a vote of the full council finance committee, makes Collins the defacto strong mayor he seeks to be and might well end three decades of Summerville being run by administrators. The moment was as sharp as a gavel slap marking the end of the four-decade Berlin Myers era as mayor.

The action was a trademark take-charge, take-no-prisoners grab by former newspaper editor, publisher and owner. Collins promised during the campaign last spring to change how the town — rocked by a recent money-handling scandal — goes about its business and that “everything was on the table.”

A formal change to a strong mayor form of government would require a voter referendum and any move to that form wasn’t widely expected before the next election.

“We have had an administrator in years past, but we did not have an ordinance (creating the position),” Collins told council explaining the rationale behind his moves. “In effect, we would be abolishing the administrator and assistant administrator position. Council giveth and council taketh away.”

Read more in tomorrow’s editions of The Post and Courier.