S.C. Department of Revenue director Rick Reames is stepping down after three years in charge, Gov. Nikki Haley said Monday.
The Republican governor tapped Hartley Powell of Columbia, a lawyer and KPMG tax professional, to succeed Reames.
Haley said Powell, whose nomination requires confirmation by the state Senate, will focus more on advising counties in how to create tax policies that help attract economic development.
“We will now see the Department of Revenue work closely with the counties and with the Department of Commerce as we continue to negotiate deals, bring jobs, continue to have higher numbers of people working,” Haley said.
Powell and Reames said they will work together on the transition until Powell takes over on Jan. 2.
Haley praised Reames for tackling the Revenue Department’s security issues, taking on tax fraud and building agency morale “back up so that they could be proud of who they were.”
Reames, who was paid $160,650 last year, recently feuded with Richland County over its penny sales-tax program. The Revenue Department alleged possible corruption, fraud and misuse in connection with the county’s 1 percent sales tax for transportation projects.
In June, a state judge ordered the Revenue Department to release $17 million in penny sales proceeds that it had been withholding from the county. But Reames claimed victory in the case since the judge ruled his agency can go forward with its claims that Richland County is wrongly spending the tax money.
Reames of Florence said he has not decided what he will do next in the private sector.