Horry County has responded to a lawsuit by treasurer Angie Jones with a scathing allegation of its own.
The county claims Jones has mishandled the duties of her office and put more on its payroll than were previously employed — some which are friends and political supporters.
“Jones has consistently attempted to manipulate, usurp and contravene the budgeting powers and process of Horry County, to bring legal action and casting constant blame on others including the prior treasurer,” the response states, “for the sole purpose of misleading the public, justifying employment of friends and political supporters and diverting attention away from her mismanagement of the treasurer’s office.”
Horry County claims Jones has exceeded the treasurer’s budget and caused the office to run a deficit.
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“As a result of Jones failing to fulfill her duties and responsibilities and interfering and attempting to disregard the exclusive authority of Horry County to make and implement yearly budgets, she should personally be held responsible for the deficit she created,” according to the county.
Jones believes she should not have to go to such measures to fulfill the obligations of her office.
“I think it’s grasping at straws, pure desperation,” she said. “For them to accuse me of mishandling my office, I have more knowledge, experience and education than they all have combined.
“I hired qualified employees who had the same vision as I had,” she said. “I’ve hired people that I didn’t even know before. All my people that I hired have experience, tons of it. My people either have degrees or the years and experience behind them. Who I hire is none of their concern.”
The county’s response comes on the heels of Jones filing suit against Horry County last month.
Jones’ office processes over 600,000 tax notices and $500 million in tax refunds each year, the lawsuit states, but her office has “historically been understaffed” by the county with 13 employees covering four offices.
When she took office in July, Jones claims almost $2 million in tax refunds had not been sent out.
She also asks in the suit for Horry County to “immediately fund her office as long as her requests are reasonable and necessary,” citing state law “vests in elected officials the authority to employ and discharge the county personnel within departments.”
In previous interviews with The Sun News, Jones said her operations budget was cut after was elected in November 2016, but well before she took office eight months later. According to assistant county administrator Justin Powell, such funding was cut at the request of former county treasurer Roddy Dickinson.
Horry County school trustee Holly Heniford said she finds it sad the county would attack an elected official possessing Jones’ level of education and expertise.
“She has a doctorate degree and she’s a doctorate professor who teaches doctorate level finance classes online during the weekend,” she said. “They should respect that the people wanted her in office and the fact that they don’t accept the taxpayers’ choice is also disheartening.”
County council Chairman Mark Lazarus said he couldn’t comment on a pending lawsuit.