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Town of Lexington: How It Works

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Photo Credit: Town of Lexington Website

Photo Credit: Town of Lexington Website

FYI: It’s Ok for the Mayor to have a ‘day job’.

When we shared the article from The State newspaper about the new businesses coming to Lexington soon, I just knew Mayor Steve MacDougall being announced as manager of the new restaurant, Mr. D’s Steaks and Seafood, would raise an eyebrow or two. I get it. Many people think the Mayor is at Town Hall all day running the town. I mean c’mon, you don’t ever hear Mayor Goodway on “Paw Patrol” talk about having another job? And Oliver Queen makes it sounds like when (if) he wins the Star City election, he’ll be running the city on a daily 9-5 basis. Not that people think TV is real life, but you see what I mean. People hear “Mayor” and think “person who runs the town/city”. Or for all I know, maybe it’s just me? Then the concern becomes will running another business distract him from his elected position?  I assume (and hope) that all elected officials are looking out for the best interest of their constituents 24/7 … even those working another full time job and juggling many responsibilities.

Not only is it ok for Mayor MacDougall to have a full time job separate from his elected office, most local and many state elected officials have “day jobs” to pay the bills. As I wrote just that in a comment or two and in response to a few messages, I figured it would be beneficial to write up a post that explains a little more.

Sidebar: Say it with me – “Lexington TOWN is different than Lexington COUNTY” particularly when discussing government. (And taxes and budgets and theoretical state money for roads but I digress.)

The town of Lexington, like the majority of municipalities in South Carolina, is a “Council form” government.

§ 30.02 – COMPOSITION; ELECTION OF COUNCIL. The Council shall be composed of a Mayor and six (6) Councilmen who shall be elected at large without reference to wards or place of residence at an election held as provided in Chapter 34 and as provided in the applicable State law.

The Mayor and Council Members are elected officials who serve four year terms. Their job is to set public policy for the town. They attend the council meetings, work sessions, meet/talk with constituents, attend public functions representing the town and the Mayor in particular attends other state and regional meetings. This is a part time position.  I would imagine the “typical” schedule is all over the place and the total number of hours vary.  The annual salaries for the council are set at $12,500 for the Mayor, $11,500 for the Mayor Pro-Tem and $10,500 for each Council Member.

In addition to serving on Town Council and other various community boards and committees, they all have full time jobs. As you’ve read, Mayor Steve MacDougall works in the food services industry. Mayor Pro-Tem Hazel Livingston works for Green Earth Services, Inc. Council Member Kathy Maness is the Executive Director of Palmetto State Teachers Association. Council Member Ted Stambolitis owns Flight Deck Restaurant. Council Member Todd Shevchik owns Lexington Life Magazine and its sister publications. Council Member Todd Carnes is the General Manager of SouthMED. Council Member Ron Williams works for Hall Marine.

So who oversees the day to day operations of the town? The town employs 150-155 people in various departments. Lexington’s Town Administrator, Britt Poole, is the “administrative officer of the municipality” as described in the town ordinances. Now THIS is a full time position. You can the full job description in Ordinance § 31.19 – DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES. The Town Administrator is appointed by a “majority vote of all members of the council.”

The short, short, short version in my own words is the Mayor and Town Council make the rules and policies. The Town Administrator carries out the rules and policies and oversees the day to day operations. Mayor and Town Council: Part-time. Town Administrator and many other employees: Full-Time. 

A few examples of public officials who have full time jobs elsewhere include Mayor Steve Benjamin of Columbia (attorney), Mayor Hardy King (business owner), State Senator Katrina Frye Shealy (insurance), State Senator Shane Massey (attorney) and the list goes on.

So there you have it, Ladies and Gentlemen. Today’s very abbreviated edition of Local Government 101.

Link to Code of Ordinances – https://www.municode.com/library/sc/lexington/codes/code_of_ordinances

Town Council Bios – http://www.lexsc.com/council_index.htm

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