- There was no $50,000 pay increase
- Position and hiring unanimous
- Guilt by association
In previous posts, Lake and Main examined points from a letter sent by a group called People for a Better Lexington to the South Carolina State Ethics Commission. The group is asking for an investigation of Lexington County Council Chairman Johnny Jeffcoat, specifically his employment with the Town of Lexington.
The first installment looked into the questionable means by which PBL submitted its request. In Part 2, a review of Mr. Jeffcoat’s position with the Town of Lexington was presented. Here, possibly the most egregious claim – Mr. Jeffcoat’s salary history – is studied.
In the letter to the SCSEC, People for a Better Lexington charged the following:
… in 2010, Councilman Jeffcoat secured his current position as an employee in the Town of Lexington. The salary he reported was just $14,601.
It may be that this low salary was suggested to avoid later public scrutiny of Councilman Jeffcoat’s employment and the circumstances of how he secured his job.
Less than one year later in 2011, Councilman Jeffcoat secured a $51,811 annual pay increase.
In 2012, he was given an $8,974 annual pay increase.
In 2013, he was given a $10,196.09 annual pay increase.
In 2014, he was given a pay increase of $438.72 and in 2015, he was given a pay increase of $4,889.66.
The PBL repeatedly makes the charge that Mr. Jeffcoat “received a $50,000 pay increase in less than a year.”
- “Less than one year later in 2011, Councilman Jeffcoat secured a $51,811 annual pay increase.”
- “As a point of comparison with Councilman Jeffcoat securing a $50,000 pay increase in less than one year”
- “…received a salary increase of more than $50,000 the year before.”
- “…including a pay increase of more than $50,000 in just one year”
A pay increase of $50,000 would, indeed, be excessive and taxpayers should certainly be alerted if and when such a huge raise is given to any public servant. However, in the case of Mr. Jeffcoat, this did not happen.
The People for a Better Lexington, so diligent in their review of competing salaries and so meticulous in providing the Ethics Commission with a detailed salary history for Mr. Jeffcoat, got it wrong. Very wrong.
To begin with, PBL cites Mr. Jeffcoat’s Statement of Economic Interest (SoEI). According to State Ethics Commission regulations, those statements must be filed by March 30th at noon covering the previous calendar year (Jan. 1 – Dec. 31). Therefore, Mr. Jeffcoat’s SoEI for the year 2010 (filed February 26, 2010), reflected his actual salary payments ($14,601) from his date of hire (October 12, 2009) until the end of the calendar year.
His salary rate was $68,000, but he did not collect that much income from the Town of Lexington that year, only 11 weeks of it.
There was no $50,000 pay increase. The PBL intentionally mixed pay rate with actual collected paychecks to make it look like Mr. Jeffcoat pulled off a heist on the taxpayers. If there is guilt to be declared, it is the People for a Better Lexington that deserve indictment.
Additionally, per longstanding practice and compensation policy, each year, every Town of Lexington employee receives
- a cost of living adjustment (COLA) to be implemented the first full pay period of the fiscal year
- a 3-3.5% annual merit increase on the anniversary of, and
- a bonus ($1,500 – $2,000 for Mr. Jeffcoat)
It is apparent that Mr. Jeffcoat’s initial salary and subsequent increases and bonuses are in line with Town procedures that pre-date (by 14 years) his hiring and are in no way extraordinary or exclusive to Mr. Jeffcoat.
However, the Town policies allowing for three annual salary bump-ups (COLA, merit increase and bonus) is excessive and should be examined.
There is one more point from PBL’s letter about Mr. Jeffcoat’s hiring and pay that strikes as intentionally misleading.
The following is extracted from the quote above:
One member of town council who approved this position for him was former Lexington Town Councilman Danny Frazier, who was indicted in 2012 for a state ethics act violation, and was later found guilty. Another member of town council who is publicly known as a close associate of Councilman Jeffcoat who assisted him in securing this employment was former Mayor of Lexington Randy Halfacre, who served on town council during this timeframe with Frazier. A third person who assisted him in securing this position and the annual pay increases is the current mayor of the Town of Lexington, Steve MacDougall, who was a town council member during this time.
The People for a Better Lexington attempt to indict Mr. Jeffcoat because a Councilman at the time of his hiring is a convicted felon. This defies reason since, as previously noted, Mr. Jeffcoat’s position (a continuation of another post), his selection for it and the salary were approved unanimously. If further implicates all members of the Town Council because a single one of their number was corrupt.
It is also alleged that former Town Councilman and current Mayor, Steve MacDougall, “assisted him in securing this position and the annual pay increases.” There is no explanation of “assisted him” nor is there evidence that Mayor MacDougall did so. Even had there been “assistance,” there is nothing more than insinuation that Mayor MacDougall did anything untoward or unethical.
Further, as proven above, Mayor MacDougall, indeed, no Council members, had any input or participated in salary increases for Mr. Jeffcoat. Increases are Town policy and have been for quite a while.
Government malfeasance is serious and accusations of it must be precise and thorough. As promoted by the People for a Better Lexington, neither is true. The secretive group is clearly trying to smear Mr. Jeffcoat, likely for political, not altruistic, purposes.
Lexington deserves the best of it’s public servants, but it also deserves honest discussion about issues and policies.