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Richland penny tax team won’t get pay raises after saying secretary made $52k

Work on Bluff Road near the S.C. State Fairgrounds in 2017. Bluff Road was a project funded by the Richland County transportation penny sales tax.
Work on Bluff Road near the S.C. State Fairgrounds in 2017. Bluff Road was a project funded by the Richland County transportation penny sales tax. tdominick@thestate.com

The group of private companies hired to manage the $1 billion Richland County transportation penny sales tax program won’t get the pay raises they sought from county leaders.

The group, known as the Program Development Team, or PDT, last year asked County Council members to approve pay raises for 20 full-time employees not only for 2018, but retroactively for 2017 and 2016, as well. The three years’ worth of requested raises would amount to a more than 10 percent pay bump for most of those employees, according to figures provided to the county by the PDT.

But county leaders delayed a decision on the raises for at least half a year. In the meantime, reporting by The State newspaper revealed that at least some of the salary figures provided by the PDT to county leaders — including $52,000 for a secretary position — had been misrepresented.

In October, PDT program manager David Beaty acknowledged that “we provided inaccurate information to the county.”

At that time, multiple council members said the discrepancies raised an issue of trust with the PDT.

On Tuesday, the PDT salary question was in danger of being kicked down the road once more, after a motion for deferral by Councilman Chip Jackson.

But six of the 11 council members ultimately voted against granting pay raises for the PDT. The council members who said “no” to PDT raises were Joyce Dickerson, Bill Malinowski, Dalhi Myers, Chakisse Newton, Allison Terracio and Joe Walker.

Efforts by The State to reach Beaty for comment on Thursday were unsuccessful.

The PDT is a partnership of three private companies: HDR Engineering (formerly known as ICA Engineering), M.B. Kahn Construction Co. and Brownstone Construction Group. They work separately from the county’s internal transportation department.

The PDT has a five-year, $32-million contract to manage the transportation penny sales tax program. That contract expires in November.

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Sarah Ellis has reported on Columbia and Richland County since 2014. She graduated from the University of South Carolina with a degree in journalism. She’s probably skipping happy hour to go to a County Council meeting.


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