Hampton Co. officials explain what happen to $5 million dollar taxpayer fund

HAMPTON COUNTY, S.C. (WTOC) – People in Hampton County have been asking questions for years now about what they believe is a missing five million dollars of taxpayer money.

190 kids spread out over 17 teams play little league baseball on these low country fields.

The fields are maintained by one volunteer.

They’re the only fields in the area and this park is the only space for kids to play but that wasn’t supposed to be the case.

“The people of Hampton County voted to spend 3.5 million dollars of their taxpayer money for a recreation complex in 2012 and here we are 10 years later, nothing has been done,” Randy Vaughn, Leader, Recreation Now said.

The capital project sales tax report shows the funds that were supposed to pay for that new recreation complex Vaughn mentioned.

The county’s finance director says the tax revenues came in over a million dollars short of expectation and because of that plus inflation, the rec area was just one of many projects that didn’t see funding.

“There were several projects that were not completed, there wasn’t enough funding for that to happen and those projects were considered critical,” Chanel Lewis, Finance Director, Hampton County said.

Documents show the tax fund had more than 11 million dollars to spend, but the county says it went to higher priority projects.

“The Estill library, the Hampton Library, and the health department those were the projects that were completed, and those projects cost more than was originally reported.”

That still doesn’t account for 100 percent of the funds though. Lewis, who started January of 2021 and wasn’t here when the money was being spent, admits there was a recording issue and funds were misspent but not on anything specific.

“There was no one big project that occurred, the money was just spent on operations.” Lewis said.

The man taking care of the fields also leads a group called Recreation Now. He’s been searching for these answers for months, just look at the documents he’s compiled and asked for.

At this point he says he just wants things to change.

“Hopefully we can get some new faces on council that can look at this and try to come up with a plan to restore that money.”

The county tells me this kind of misspending of funds won’t happen again and they’ve paid for a survey on recreation to finally take steps forward on a possible complex for kids.

Copyright 2022 WTOC. All rights reserved.

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