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Letter to the Editor: Lexington County council member question practices of Palmetto Pride while roa

Dear Editor:

As a member of Lexington County Council, representing Council District Three, when I campaigned for my seat, one of my campaign platforms was, “Trash Free, District Three!” So to say that I have an interest in the appearance of our County is an understatement. I have worked hard to improve our County’s relationship with our local beautification councils. I am an advocate for organizations that share this mission and supply the boots on the ground to help Lexington County rid the unsightly blight, organizations like Keep the Midlands Beautiful.

Lexington County contributes funds to Keep the Midlands Beautiful and they grow that contribution through grants from private donations, volunteer hours, fundraisings, and grants from Palmetto Pride. Palmetto Pride is the state-level organization and state affiliate of Keep America Beautiful and Keep the Midlands Beautiful is a local affiliate of Keep America Beautiful. Keep the Midlands Beautiful is able to turn our County’s contribution of $27,000 into $604,800 through efforts to find other sources of money to benefit our County.

The State organization, Palmetto Pride, receives the majority of its funding from the State of South Carolina through fines and fees assessed through the courts. Palmetto Pride’s mission is to, “Eradicate litter and promote beautification in South Carolina.” However, it is falling short of that goal. As the state-level affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, Palmetto Pride should be a pass-through that supports the local affiliates of Keep America Beautiful throughout South Carolina and taking the money that is sent to them from the State of South Carolina and giving it to the local chapters to enable them to support their local communities. Instead, Palmetto Pride is keeping the money for itself, with a current balance in their savings account of over $6,000,000.

If Keep the Midlands Beautiful can turn a contribution of $27,000 into $604,500 for Lexington County, how much more could they do with just a portion of the $6,000,000 that Palmetto Pride has on hand? According to Palmetto Pride’s 990 2015 filing, they spend $3,000,000 a year on advertising, operations and grants. But, their own numbers show that they are spending less than 18 percent of that money on grants to local affiliates and over 33 percent on advertising. I am not sure how much litter a billboard or radio commercial is picking up, but I know, the volunteer numbers that Palmetto Pride puts out each year are collected from state-wide affiliates, NOT FROM THEIR OWN EFFORTS. This seems to me like a waste of money.

We, in Lexington County, are known for our fiscal conservatism. If I can get a better return on my investment through an increased contribution of State resources that have been given to a parent organization that I support, shouldn’t I do that? Why is Palmetto Pride holding $6,000,000 in an interest earning savings account that could be used to eradicate litter and promote beautification in Lexington County? I would like to ask the Governor, the Senate, and the House to look into the true numbers of this organization.

Sincerely,

Darrell Hudson

Member, Lexington County Council

District 3

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