Loris City Council was in its new meeting place for less than 30 minutes last week.
The meetings are now being held at the American Legion Hall at 2608 Main Street. And, the meetings begin at 6 p.m. rather than 7 p.m.
Even though last week’s meeting was short, it was long enough to find out the long-awaited 2015-16 audits -- that have been at the center of controversy due to document shredding -- are nearly complete. The audits are expected to be presented to council for possible approval during the March 4 meeting.
“The audit has been submitted and is being reviewed,” Loris City Administrator Damon Kempski told council. “We spoke to the auditors [recently] and were told you should have the information before it is made public at the March meeting.”
As reported by the Loris Scene in December, the city is years behind in completing required audits which are mandated by the state.
As a result, funding the city should be receiving from the state is being withheld, Kempski confirmed.
The reason, he said, is because much of the needed documentation for the 2015-16 audit was been shredded.
Kempski, according to a published report, confirmed it was his signature on an agreement related to the shredding that took place in 2016. But, he said, he was out sick when the shredding occurred and says he did not authorize it to take place.
Until all the past-due audits are submitted to the state, $60,000 has been withheld per year that the city should have been receiving.
Kempski said once the 2015-16 audit is approved, the audits for FY 2016-17 and FY 2017-18 should be completed very quickly. That is because, he said, all the documentation for those audits is computerized and readily available.
City Hall update
Kempski said the Federal Emergency Management Agency is still reviewing information that has been submitted about Loris City Hall. It was severely damaged by the flood during Hurricane Florence last year.
“We are awaiting a response from FEMA,” Kempski said.
Once FEMA has completed its review, Kempski said he will meet with the South Carolina Emergency Management Department (SCEMD) “to chart our course of action.”
He said the city will be given three options. One, rebuild city hall the same way it was or, two, going back into the same building “under a different footprint.”
The third option will be to build a new city hall on another site. Kempski, after the meeting, said he does not believe option three will be feasible.
Kempski said he still does not know when he will be able to present the options to council for review.
Loris Recreation Director Tom Cocke said baseball and softball registration continues through Feb. 15. The registration fee is $40 for both girls ages 5 to 15 and boys ages 5 to 14.
Practices begin Feb. 25 with the season starting March 21.
Mayor Nichols absent
Mayor Nichols was absent from the January and February meetings due to his illness.
He is recovering from surgery and pneumonia.
When this month’s meeting took place, Nichols was still hospitalized at Grand Strand Regional Medical Center.