City officials are pushing back against claims a mayoral candidate made Thursday about Rock Hill’s reserve funds.
William “Bump” Roddey claimed during a Kiwanis Club forum that Rock Hill is “dead broke” and has only $264,000 of uncommitted cash on hand to pay its bills.
Roddey, a York County Council member whose district includes parts of Rock Hill, was answering a question about the city’s Knowledge Park project, an initiative to help connect the Winthrop University campus and downtown area with businesses and tourism options.
Roddey began by saying it was “virtually impossible” to pay for certain projects and argued that the city should focus on becoming more financially stable. He said the Governmental Finance Officers Association recommends a municipality to have two to three months worth of reserve funds.
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“You look at Rock Hill’s fund balance cash flow, $264,000 is a mere drop in the bucket for uncommitted reserve funds,” said Roddey at the Rock Hill Kiwanis Club event. “If Rock Hill was to abide by the principles set, it would need between 18 and 25 percent of its expenses against its annual budget to have on reserves. Rock Hill only has on reserves a day and a half to pay its bills. Rock Hill is dead broke.”
After the forum, Steven Gibson, Rock Hill’s assistant city manager, said Roddey is inaccurate. He said Roddey is only focusing on one of several reserve funds from a June 2016 financial report.
Rock Hill is dead broke.
William “Bump” Roddey, candidate for Rock Hill mayor
Rock Hill’s cash on hand is more than $13.6 million, according to Gibson, who said that represents around 40 days worth of cash on hand. Gibson said there are several reserve fund “buckets,” including reserved, unreserved, committed and uncommitted, which need to be considered to get the full amount.
Those funds act like a savings account for the city, Gibson said. He said looking at one number and judging the city is akin to equating someone’s income to asking how much cash they have in their wallet.
“You can’t hunt and peck one number, you have to understand the whole picture,” Gibson said. “Only looking at one piece doesn’t show that.”
Roddey is running for mayor against Rock Hill Sports Commission chairman John Gettys and landscape architect Duane Christopher.
The three answered a range of questions on issues such as the future of sports tourism, roads and infrastructure and keeping communication lines open between the city and residents.
You can’t hunt and peck one number, you have to understand the whole picture.
Steven Gibson, assistant city manager for Rock Hill
An election will be held Oct. 17. If none of the three candidates earns more than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff would be held on Oct. 31.
The winner will replace retiring Mayor Doug Echols, who is leaving the post after 20 years.
‘Shames the work they’ve done’
Gettys and Roddey both said they wanted to increase childhood literacy in Rock Hill and York County.They both said they wanted to reach underserved children by using city services and programs. Gettys said he wanted to restart Echols-era literacy and volunteer programs. Roddey questioned the city’s utility rates, arguing that a child can’t learn with the power shut off.
Roddey took a swipe at Gettys later in the debate, saying Gettys should “read a financial report.” He said the city’s debt level is $300 million. City Manager David Vehaun has previously said that figure is inflated by a $90 million bond issue in 2016 to help expand the water plant’s capacity.
$13.6 million Rock Hill’s cash on hand, according to Gibson
“Some people in this room don’t like to admit it, because it shames the work they’ve done over the past 10-15 years,” Roddey said.
Earlier, Gettys made a comment about how he “never heard from Bump” when Gettys was touring the county as a part of the 2017 Pennies for Progress Commission.
‘Keep us down the trail we’re going’
Gettys said the Knowledge Park project was a “game changer” for Rock Hill. The University Center portion of the plan includes a proposed 140,000-square-foot indoor sports complex, which is projected to bring $13 million a year into the city.
Gettys said the city is prepared to make a regional and national impact in sports tourism, highlighted most recently by the BMX World Championships held this summer at Rock Hill’s Riverwalk development.
“I want to keep us down the trail we’re going,” said Gettys, who served for two terms on the City Council before stepping down in 2008. “The other two candidates can say what they can do. I’ve accomplished things already in this community.”
Christopher: Broaden the tax base
Christopher told attendees he would fight to enact “much more business-friendly policies” to help broaden the city’s tax base.
He said he appreciated sports tourism’s impact on the city, but wanted to slash licensing fees and generate revenue from business in the downtown area to create better diversity and density.
“If we don’t have friendly business policies, we can’t afford anything,” said Christopher. “Diversity and density is the key to having a workable city.”
Rock Hill general election
An election will be held Oct. 17 to determine the city’s next mayor and some City Council representatives. If none of the three mayoral candidates earn more than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff would be held Oct. 31.