Cayce City Council on Tuesday endorsed plans to beautify the airport corridor and allow the mayor to fly to Washington on a lobbying trip for federal funding.
Despite a unanimous vote, tensions remained between Mayor Elise Partin and some council members over her handling of Cayce's partnership with sister cities that endorsed the airport corridor plan before Partin had laid it out in detail to her own council.
Council OK'd the January trip to meet with South Carolina's congressional delegation only on condition that Partin purchase the cheapest airfare available.
The mayor said she would do that anyway. But Partin said she is unsure her schedule will allow her to travel the last week in January when mayors of West Columbia and Springdale are talking about going.
Councilmen Steve Isom and Rick Myers have complained at several meetings that Partin did not ask for a formal resolution of support for the corridor project before she began marketing it to sister cities, Lexington County Council, the airport commission and other public bodies.
"We should have been the first one to approve this before you went out getting support for it," Myers said during an exchange with Partin.
She countered that Myers and Isom have cherry-picked her statements and challenged them to stop misrepresenting her actions.
"Please do not say again that this project has never been presented to this council," Partin said.
The bickering centers on whether council's earlier vote on a citywide development plan that includes the corridor amounts to an endorsement of the disputed beautification of Airport Boulevard, the Charleston Highway and Knox Abbott Drive.
On Tuesday, it took council 30 minutes to vote on corridor beautification and the effort to join the lobbying for federal aid - which no one said they oppose.
The discussion was punctuated with back-and-forth exchanges about language in minutes of a September council meeting and whether the mayor may make commitments for Cayce without council's approval.
At one point when some in the audience snickered about the tenor of the discussion, assistant city manager Tammy Barkley complained the public's reaction in a meeting is "very annoying."
The limitation on airfare to Washington grew out of a 35-minute discussion minutes earlier Tuesday. Isom and Myers are pushing for new regulations to control expense reimbursements for the mayor, whom they say has asked the city to pay for expenses that her predecessor and others on council did not request.
Partin said she is not opposed to controls. But she and council ally Skip Jenkins said the proposal needs to be clarified and the language "cleaned up."
"I think the way this is written is pretty sloppy," the mayor said.
Myers withdrew his motion to approve new guidelines after council agreed to have the city's attorney draft a refined proposal in time for next month's meeting.
"It suits me," a frustrated Councilman Ken Jumper said of the delay. "We're not getting anywhere now."