An article published in May by 24/7 Wall Street named Belton as the poorest town in South Carolina - but city officials and its residents aren't having it.
The article, which was reproduced through Gannett outlets around the country, said 24/7 Wall Street reviewed the average annual income of each town to identify the poorest per state.
The article lists Belton's median household income as $29,329.
"In Belton, the poorest town in South Carolina, about one in every five adults do not have a high school diploma," the article reads. "Perhaps not surprisingly, Belton."
In a statement released by Belton officials, they referred to the article as "click-bait" and said they were not given the opportunity to comment before the article was published.
Councilman Ray Graham said the article misrepresents the entire county and not only harms their continuing economic development, but shows the hard-working citizens of Belton in an "unflattering light."
Officials said the article has also gotten strong backlash from Anderson County residents, who called it "nonsense," "fake news," and "crap."
“We are gratified at the level of support we have received from the community in response to the unfair portrayal of Belton at the hands of a large media conglomerate," said city administrator Alan Sims. "People who know Belton can attest to what a wonderful town this is, and it’s all made possible by our people, be they rich or poor."
In the statement, officials said there is no way the information published by 24/7 Wall Street is correct and said the authors "cherry-picked" data from the 2012 to 2016 American Community Survey, which has a margin of error up to plus or minus 8 percent.
City officials said the article overlooks the role Belton has played in Anderson County's economic success, which has attracted $3.3 billion in capital investment and created 5,377 new jobs since 2009.
“The City of Belton offers a full range of quality municipal services including public safety, recreation, water, and sewage treatment," Mayor Wendell Page said. "We provide these services in a courteous and cost-effective manner.
"We have a balanced budget and pay our bills on time. Perhaps others could learn a thing or two from us.”
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