Changes ahead for James Island

Bill Woolsey

ALAN HAWES

JAMES ISLAND -- The town of James Island's new mayor will reorganize but keep intact -- at least for now -- the municipality's current nine-member staff.

But Mayor-elect Bill Woolsey said he doesn't know if town consultant Roy DeHaven will stay on after his contract expires at the end of 2010 and does not envision outgoing Mayor Mary Clark's son being given any new contracts.

Woolsey has been sworn in but doesn't take office until Wednesday. He said changes he plans to make will result in staff reporting directly to Town Clerk Frances Simmons, instead of to DeHaven. DeHaven, who had been like a chief of staff under Clark, also will report to Simmons, Woolsey said.

During a hectic few weeks of preparing to take office, Woolsey has spoken personally to most of the town's staffers, he said, "and no one has told me that they don't want to stay."

Julian Clark and DeHaven both work under contracts and are not considered staff members, Woolsey said.

Woolsey said he plans to get into Town Hall early Wednesday to meet with staff and review any new financial records. "I plan to work on a budget (for fiscal year 2010-2011). We still don't have a budget," he said.

Woolsey bested a field of five mayoral candidates, including Mary Clark, on Aug. 3. The transition between the incoming and outgoing administrations has not been smooth, both Clark and Woolsey agree.

Woolsey was required by Clark to sign a "confidentiality agreement" in order to get copies of town financial records that many people consider public records. Clark chided Woolsey for taking his issues with her to the public and news media. She accused Woolsey and the newly elected Town Council of ruining her birthday by scheduling their swearing-in ceremony for Aug. 19.

The newly elected mayor and council members each maintain there was no conspiracy and that the date was chosen because it was the only one prior to Sept. 1 when all council members would be in town.

Clark did not attend the swearing-in or either of August's council meetings. She said she offered to cancel the August meetings, but Councilmen Bill "Cubby" Wilder, Joe Qualey and Leonard Blank decided meetings should be held.

"I did not attend these council meetings because I know that these councilmen are only trying to fix their mistakes and give each other plaques of achievement," Clark said in a written statement. She could not be reached for comment Friday.

At the Aug. 24 meeting, scheduled action on the 2010-2011 budget was postponed. The three council members present said a delay was asked for by Clark and Woolsey, to allow Woolsey and the new council to act on it.

Council this past summer did not approve a budget proposed by Clark and could not reach a compromise. The 2009-2010 fiscal year -- and its budget -- ran out in June.

Woolsey said that without a budget, council should have been overseeing all town spending in July and August, but that was not done.

Woolsey has been reviewing records he was grudgingly given by the town, he said, but is concerned because he's seen no accounting for July and August spending. He said he's been told the town paid for "regular expenses," such as rent on town hall and other expenditures considered proper. But, he said, he's also heard rumors of spending that might be questioned later.

The town is undergoing its regular annual audit for the year 2009-2010, and Woolsey said he's anxious to see results. He said he's not aware of anything that would warrant calling in another auditor or other outside authority to review the books.

Woolsey said he has yet to determine how much more, if anything, the town owes Julian Clark. The mayor's son already had a $26,000 Web master contract when he was awarded an even more controversial $49,000 contract earlier this year for GIS services.

Those services are basically mapping roads, ditches, power lines and other infrastructure. The town will consult with the James Island Public Service District and Charleston County concerning the mapping services, Woolsey said.

"I do not anticipate Julian Clark having any position in the town," Woolsey added.