March 4, 2015

SC Big Story: SC State trustees meet on president’s future

Members of the SC chapter of the Alzheimer's Association gather at the Statehouse Tuesday to promote awarenessof the disease

Members of the SC chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association gather at the Statehouse Tuesday to promote awarenessof the disease

A roundup of what’s making news in South Carolina state government.

The board of trustees at financially-struggling South Carolina State University are scheduled to meet behind closed doors Wednesday — the same day they had promised to have more information about the fate of the school’s suspended president Thomas Elzey.

The trustees will hold a teleconference meeting Wednesday evening. The only item on the agenda is to get legal advice, which state law allows to be done away from the public.

Trustees placed Elzey on paid administrative leave last week. In a statement released immediately after that meeting, they pledged to give more information about his status by Wednesday.

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SC revenue director explains why agency stopping direct deposits of tax refunds

Department of Revenue Director Rick Reames said the move is an effort to fight fraud (Image: SCDOR)

Department of Revenue Director Rick Reames said the move is an effort to fight fraud (Image: SCDOR)

Some taxpayers will have to wait longer to get a tax refund from the state of South Carolina this year.

The state Department of Revenue announced Monday that some taxpayers who requested their refund be deposited directly into their bank account will instead be mailed paper checks due to fraud concerns.

“Very simply, criminals are filing fake tax returns in an attempt to steal people’s tax refunds,” agency director Rick Reames told South Carolina Radio Network, adding there has been a significant increase nationwide in fraudulent income tax returns filed this year. “What we want to do is twofold: We want to make sure that the correct taxpayer gets the correct refund. We also want to prevent and deter future criminal activity like that.”

He said identity thieves will often use a name and Social Security number to file a fraudulent tax return. That thief will then attempt to have any refund deposited into an online banking account they control.

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Suspended SC State president sues school’s board

S.C. State University president Thomas Elzey (Image: The Citadel)

S.C. State University president Thomas Elzey (Image: The Citadel)

South Carolina State University’s currently suspended president has filed a lawsuit against the school, claiming the university has breached his contract and caused harm to his reputation.

Thomas Elzey, who was put on administrative leave by the university’s Board of Trustees last week, filed an injunction in state court on Tuesday. The complaint claims the administrator suffered lost wages, mental anguish, humiliation, and even physical injuries due to the strife between him and the board.

The injunction seeks to keep Elzey on paid administrative leave until his lawsuit against the school can be settled. Elzey’s salary was $172,000 a year from the school and an additional $132,000 a year from its foundation. The contract also required a house and car (the complaint claims Elzey never received the car).

Elzey was hired in June 2013, well after the school entered its current financial tailspin. The lawsuit claims his contract only allowed the SC State board to fire him for “cause,” which the complaint argued had not been given. The filing seems to indicate that Elzey believes he will be fired by the board.

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Furniture retailer moving headquarters to Fort Mill

Broad RiverThe town of Fort Mill will say hello to a home furnishings retailer as well as the 200 jobs it is expected to bring.

Broad River Furniture announced Tuesday that it will set up a new corporate campus and distribution center at the town’s Lakemont Business Park as part of a $12.6 million investment. The business park is located close to the Carowinds theme park along the North Carolina border.

“Fort Mill is the ideal location for our new campus,” Broad River Furniture CEO Jonathan Ishee said in a statement. “We thank the state of South Carolina for their cooperation and support during our site selection process, and we look forward to breaking ground on our new facility.”

The company said it will move its existing Charlotte corporate offices and distribution center to Fort Mill. The mover is expected to bring 200 jobs, according to a release from the state Department of Commerce. Tuesday’s announcement said the move to Fort Mill will allow the company to bring together employees from its Charlotte facilities. York County Economic Development Board director David Swenson said some of those would be entirely new jobs.

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Voters to choose replacements for two disgraced sheriffs

LexCo SheriffVoters in Lexington County will head to the polls Tuesday to make their choice on who should replace a longtime sheriff that resigned in disgrace last year.

Meanwhile, in Berkeley County 16 candidates have officially filed for next month’s primary to replace their sheriff, who also resigned last month to face DUI-related charges.

Tuesday’s GOP primary will be voters’ first opportunity to select the next Lexington County sheriff. If any candidate secures 50 percent of the vote, he will almost certainly be the next sheriff, as no Democrats have filed to run. If no candidate secures more than half of the vote, a runoff election would be held in two weeks on March 17.

The Republican candidates are Richland County Sheriff’s deputy Justin Britt, former SC Criminal Justice Academy training director Ed Felix, current Lexington Town Police officer Jay Koon, and West Columbia police chief Dennis Tyndall. All four are vying to replace former sheriff James Metts. Metts resigned back in December shortly before pleading guilty on a charge of conspiracy to harbor and conceal illegal aliens.

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