LIBERTY – The City of Liberty’s financial issues may have led to the early retirement of one city employee.
“We were going to have some personnel cut backs by the end of the year and Fire Chief Mike Sergeant was one of those,” said City Councilmember Dwight Yates.
According to city officials, Sergeant retired ahead of the city’s cut backs.
“Liberty, like many other cities in South Carolina and the nation, are experiencing the same kind of challenges that every citizen is facing. The mayor and council are reviewing all expenses compared to income in the city’s budget,” said City Councilmember, Brian Petersen. “In the upcoming weeks, changes may occur, but each and every change will be keeping the citizens and the city employees’ needs at the forefront of every decision.”
Due to the economic issues in Liberty, city officials have asked for cut backs.
“Just like all towns, our budget is the most critical thing on our plate. Revenues are lower than they were previously and it’s just a tough time. We are not growing that much and we are losing business since the mill closed down,” said City Councilmember Lavant Padgett. “We asked all department heads to cut back anything and everything that they can.”
Over the last several weeks, the city has lost three employees, the fire chief, Mike Sergeant retired. The Police Chief Corky Miller resigned, and the City Clerk Sue Woods resigned, town officials have said.
“The fire chief did announce his retirement, but we will leave the police chief as he resigned, and the city clerk resigned out of disillusionment for her job and health issues with her husband,” Padgett said. “She was just going to go ahead and resign and spend time with him.”
Some city officials maintain that there was no connection between the three city employees and the financial cut backs.
The Liberty Mayor Michael Sheriff says that the circumstances are coincidental.
“I’m hearing all of these rumors out there and we need to dispel those quickly because there is really nothing going on,” Sheriff said. “It just happens to be coincidental that all of this has happened at the same time.”
Woods and Miller have not returned calls asking for comment. Sergeant said he had planned retirement at this time.