Should North Augusta administrator have to live in the city?

Published: Oct. 2, 2023 at 10:14 PM EDT
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NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - North Augusta city administrators are required to live within the city.

Currently, Jim Clifford has been city administrator for more than three years and still lives outside city lines.

“Somebody in this city said it was OK for him to have this position, and I don’t know if they owned up to it tonight. I heard a slight apology. But other than that, not much,” Fred Ilardi, who lives in the city, said at Monday night’s North Augusta City Council meeting.

The requirement goes back to 1977.

North Augusta Mayor Briton Williams said: “Back then, there was no reason why somebody wouldn’t live in North Augusta go to one of the big four churches. The reality is that 2023 was the 22nd largest city. We’ve grown by 14% in the last 10 years or 25,000 people.”

Clifford had three years to move to North Augusta. Those three years were up in August.

“We probably should have done this several months ago before August, and as mayor, I take the blame for that. We’ve had a lot of priorities that we’ve been working on. Quite frankly, this is important, but compared to the other things we’re doing to move the city forward. Frankly, it wasn’t a top priority, but we’re dealing with it now,” said Williams.

They’re dealing with it by looking to amend the current ordinance.

Three people made their voices heard, and all of them didn’t have a problem with the current administrator.

“I think Mr. Clifford is more than qualified for this position. I also think there may have been other people that were just as qualified as Mr. Clifford, but we never got to see them because they were pushed away because of the job requirements,” said Ilardi.

Williams says if performance isn’t an issue, then where they live shouldn’t matter.

“We need the best city administrator. In a perfect world do we want that him or her to live in the city? Absolutely. Does that need to be a requirement today in 2023? I don’t think so. And that’s what we’re addressing because no other municipalities are requiring,” said Williams.

The council approved the first reading on the change. A final reading and vote will take place on October 16.

If approved, Williams said they would amend Clifford’s contract with the change.