After missing the last Sumter County Council meeting because a colleague was killed in the line of duty, Sumter County Sheriff's Office deputies returned to the biweekly meeting to continue advocating for a salary increase.
Cpl. Andrew Gillette, …
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Cpl. Andrew Gillette, 36, died in the line of duty while serving a detention order and eviction notice in Dalzell on Tuesday, Feb. 25. At about 11:30 a.m., shots were fired at deputies as they were attempting to serve the notice. According to Sumter County Sheriff Anthony Dennis, Gillette was struck in the chest after Terry Hasty, 56, fired multiple shots at him.
Hasty was killed at the scene from returned fire. Gillette, who had been with the sheriff's office for seven years after serving in the U.S. Air Force at Shaw Air Force Base, died after being rushed to Prisma Health Tuomey Hospital just before noon.
At Tuesday's meeting, Gillette's wife was present, supporting her husband's fellow deputies. The seats were filled with more standing during the meeting, and more than half of the attendees were Sumter County deputies.
Since November 2019, deputies from the sheriff's office have attended county council meetings requesting an increase in pay during the public comments section.
The starting salary for a deputy is $31,000 and $29,000 for a detention center officer with no experience or degree, according to the sheriff's office, a rate Dennis has said is among the bottom quarter in the state.
Deputies are asking for an across-the-board adjustment, not just an increase to the starting salaries.
During Tuesday's meeting, four deputies spoke. From saying Sumter County was lagging in deputy salaries compared to other surrounding counties and having a 25-32% disparity in pay to bringing up the numbers deputy employers came up with for an adjusted salary, the deputies said they aren't planning on stopping their fight for a pay increase.
A 14-year sergeant with a four-year degree previously told The Sumter Item he makes $42,975 a year, which includes a supplement for being on the county's SWAT team. Based on the pay plan the sheriff's office came up with, that deputy should be getting paid an annual salary of about $68,340.
During the Fiscal, Tax and Property Committee meeting, Sumter County Council Chairman Jim McCain said committee members discussed the salary increase for the sheriff's office and detention center employees, but no action was taken and won't be taken anytime soon, he said, as the council needs time to prepare the funding as the salary increase would be a recurring fund.
"The pay increases are going to take place," McCain said. "We've already decided that. Actually, it was decided months ago. Salary increases are ongoing. We can't just pull money from somewhere now. It's got to be done during the budget process."
According to McCain, the annual budget process will take place around July 1, which is the beginning of the fiscal year that runs until June 30 each year.
He said once the budget is approved on July 1 of this year, the sheriff's office deputies can expect a salary increase soon after the approval.
313 acres may stay rural near Shaw due to lack of infrastructure
The first reading on a rezoning request for six separate tax parcels - totaling about 313.6 acres - from residential-15 to agricultural conservation near the intersection of Black River Road and Edens Road was brought before council on Tuesday.
The zoning designation for these properties was changed to residential-15 in 2007 to accommodate future residential development. The previous zoning designation before 2007 was agricultural conservation.
However, the zoning back to agricultural conservation was initiated by county council, as the land has limited infrastructure and no public sewer or water in the area.
The area was originally proposed to be a part of the military protection planning area for Shaw Air Force Base, but council plans to keep the area rural.
The planning commission recommended approval of the rezoning request as it is consistent with the 2040 Comprehensive Plan. Additionally, this rezoning action is supported by the 2016 Sumter-Shaw A.F.B JLUS, which supports expansion of the current military protection planning area boundaries.
Council unanimously approved the first reading. It must undergo three readings to be approved.
At-home deer processing business approved
The third reading of a request to expand a business property at 3760 and 3770 Peach Orchard Road was also presented. The applicant, Roy Floyd, is looking to expand his business, Peach Orchard Deer Processing, which has been running since 2005 as an at-home occupation.
The planning commission recommended amending the ordinance to create standards for the property expansion and change the language in place to make it a commercial property. No changes were made since the last meeting, and council unanimously approved the request.
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