2017 South Carolina Code of Laws
Title 4 - Counties
CHAPTER 9 - COUNTY GOVERNMENT
Section 4-9-10. Referendum to determine form of county government; adoption of form of government selected; form of government when not otherwise determined by referendum; change in initial form; continuation of officials in office.

Universal Citation: SC Code § 4-9-10 (2017)

(a) Each county, after at least two public hearings which shall have been advertised in a newspaper of general circulation in the county and wherein the alternate forms of government provided for in this chapter are explained by the legislative delegation of the county, may prior to July 1, 1976, conduct a referendum to determine the wishes of the qualified electors as to the form of government to be selected or become subject to the provisions of subsection (b) of this section. The referendum may be called by an act of the General Assembly, resolution of the governing body, or upon petition of not less than ten percent of the registered electors of the county. The referendum shall be conducted by the county election commission. The question submitted shall be framed by the authority calling for the referendum and when called by petition such petition shall state the question to be proposed. All alternate forms of government provided for in this chapter shall appear on the ballot and unless one form receives a majority favorable vote in the initial referendum, a second or runoff referendum shall be held two weeks after the first referendum at which time the two forms which received the highest number of votes shall again be submitted to the qualified electors for final selection of the form to be adopted. A referendum may also be called to determine the wishes of the registered electors as to the question of whether the members of the governing body of the county shall be elected from defined single member election districts or at large from the county. Such referendum may be called by an act of the General Assembly, resolution of the governing body of the county or by petition of not less than ten percent of the registered electors. The governing body shall by resolution provide for adoption of the form of government selected in the referendum, which shall be filed in the office of the Secretary of State and be effective immediately upon such filing. All resolutions which adopt a form of county government shall be printed in the Code of Laws of South Carolina and remain a part thereof until amended or repealed. The General Assembly shall provide for the number of councilmen or commissioners. In the event that the members of the governing body are required to be elected from defined single member election districts, the General Assembly shall provide for the composition of such districts.

(b) Notwithstanding any other provisions of this chapter, unless otherwise determined by referendum prior to July 1, 1976, the county concerned shall, beginning on that date, have the form of government including the method of election, number, composition and terms of the governing body most nearly corresponding to the form in effect in the county immediately prior to that date, which the General Assembly hereby determines to be as follows:

For the counties of Abbeville, Allendale, Barnwell, Calhoun, Dillon, Georgetown, Greenwood, Horry, Laurens, Oconee and Saluda, the council form of government as prescribed in Article 3 of this chapter.

For the counties of Anderson, Bamberg, McCormick, Union and York, the council-supervisor form of government as prescribed in Article 5 of this chapter.

For the counties of Aiken, Beaufort, Charleston, Cherokee, Chester, Chesterfield, Clarendon, Darlington, Dorchester, Edgefield, Fairfield, Florence, Greenville, Hampton, Jasper, Kershaw, Lee, Lancaster, Lexington, Newberry, Pickens, Richland, Spartanburg and Sumter the council-administrator form of government as prescribed in Article 7 of this chapter.

For the counties of Berkeley, Colleton, Marion, Orangeburg, Marlboro and Williamsburg, the county board of commissioners form of government as prescribed in Article 11 of this chapter.

For those counties in which the county governing body, immediately prior to June 25, 1975, was appointed rather than elected, the members of the governing body shall be required to be elected from defined single member election districts, unless otherwise determined by a valid referendum prior to July 1, 1976. For the purpose of this section, such referendum shall be deemed valid unless declared to be in violation of state or federal law by a court of competent jurisdiction.

(c) After the initial form of government and the number and method of election of county council including the chairman has been adopted and selected, the adopted form, number, and method of election shall not be changed for a period of two years from the date such form becomes effective and then only as a result of a referendum as hereinafter provided for. Referendums may be called by the governing body or upon petition of not less than ten percent of the registered electors of the county. Petitions shall be certified as valid or rejected by the county board of registration within sixty days after they have been delivered to the board and, if certified, shall be filed with the governing body which shall provide for a referendum not more than ninety days thereafter. If more than one petition is filed within the time allowed for such filing, the petition bearing the largest number of signatures of registered electors shall be the proposal presented, in the manner set forth hereinafter. Referendums shall be conducted by the county election commissioner and may be held in a general election or in a special election as determined by the governing body. No change to an alternate form of government, different number of council members, or method of election of council including the chairman as a result of a referendum shall become effective unless such proposed form receives a favorable vote of a majority of those persons voting in a referendum. In any referendum, the question voted upon, whether it be to change the form of government, number of council members, or methods of election, shall give the qualified electors an alternative to retain the existing form of government, number of council members, or method of election or change to one other designated form, number, or method of election. After a referendum has been held and whether or not a change in the form results therefrom, no additional referendums shall be held for a period of four years.

If the governing body of the county as initially or subsequently established pursuant to a referendum or otherwise shall be declared to be illegal and not in compliance with state and federal law by a court of competent jurisdiction, the General Assembly shall have the right to prescribe the form of government, the method of election, and the number and terms of council members but may submit to the qualified electors by referendum a question as to their wishes with respect to any element thereof which question shall include as an option the method of election in effect at the time of the referendum.

(d) Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, the council-manager form of government as provided for in Article 9 of this chapter shall be adopted only after receiving a favorable referendum vote.

(e) All members of the governing bodies of the respective counties serving terms of office on the date on which a particular form of county government becomes effective shall continue to serve the terms for which they were elected or appointed and until their successors are elected or appointed and have qualified.

HISTORY: 1962 Code Section 14-3701; 1975 (59) 692; 1980 Act No. 300, Sections 1, 1A, 2; 1982 Act No. 313, Section 3.

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