AIKEN - Aiken County Administrator William "Bill" Shepherd will leave county government effective Sept. 30.
He announced his resignation in a letter to members of the Aiken County Council on Friday.
"I am retiring rather than resigning," Mr. Shepherd said Friday. He has served as county administrator since January, 1992, succeeding Scott Barnes, who resigned under a cloud of sexual misconduct charges in June of 1991.
"I have committed myself to serving the citizens of Aiken County faithfully and honorably," Mr. Shepherd said in his letter to council members."With the support and contributions of county council and the entire county government staff, significant strides have been made to improve the quality and quantity of local government services available to our citizens."
Mr. Shepherd, a retired U.S. Army officer, took the reins of county government after a short stint as administrator in Barnwell County. The fact that he came to the county after a successful military career gave him a degree of independence that some officials do not always enjoy, said former County Council member Jim Baggott.
"He was the only truly independent administrator we've ever had," Mr. Baggott said. "Retired from the military, he wasn't dependent on Aiken County to keep the wolf away from the door, and he wasn't subject to the winds of political change."
His administration began during a time when the county was experiencing some cash flow problems, its credit rating was in jeopardy, and tax anticipation notes were almost routinely used to meet the cost of county operations.
"He came in when the county needed some strong financial direction," said Fred Humes, director of the Economic Development Partnership. "He and county council have done a fine job in keeping Aiken County financially stable, and that is a major factor in attracting industry."
Mr. Shepherd, however, was reluctant to discuss his past record in the county, saying his resignation was not "a big thing." He commented that he was "much more focused on things we've got to do" and mentioned getting the Local Option Sales Tax on the ballot in November and completing Langley Pond Park.
But Councilman Rick Osbon gave the administrator credit for initiating construction on the new Aiken County Detention Center and for helping to solve the county's waste disposal problems with the Three Rivers Solid Waste Authority.
Mr. Osbon would also like to see a nationwide search for Mr. Shepherd's replacement. He says he is looking for a candidate with a working knowledge of government and managerial experience.
"It takes a well-rounded individual to do the job," Mr. Osbon said.
Reach Pat Willis at (803) 279-6895.