Highlights from the Town Council Meeting on November 15, 2016

Mayor pro tem John Gregg highlighted several recent activities of the Public Safety Committee: they’ve reviewed results of the Club’s annual survey of members (which will be released to the Club Board and members later this month); they are finalizing design and cost of refrigerator magnets containing contact information of organizations that property owners might need to contact before, during, and/or after an emergency; and they are drafting changes to the Emergency Preparedness pages of the Town’s website to improve its organization and expand content. Mr. Gregg said that the Disaster Recovery Council held an after-action review on October 27 and, on November 9, the group’s consultant issued an Improvement Plan based on findings from that meeting. In December, the Public Safety Committee will begin using information from the November 9 document to revise the Emergency Preparedness Plan.

Mr. Gregg closed his report with an explanation of recent Town activities to apply to FEMA for reimbursement of expenses related to Hurricane Matthew. Their first step is to enter into a Funding Agreement with the South Carolina Emergency Management Department (which represents FEMA for this purpose); Council approved entering into the agreement. The Town’s Matthew-related outlays to date include about $9,000 for hurricane shutter installation, debris removal, and equipment rental. Commissioner Bannwart’s input below lists additional costs incurred by the Seabrook Island Utility Commission that will be included in the Town’s application.

Councilman Jody Turner reported that both of the beach buoys that define the Dog Off-Leash Area have been recovered; one is in good shape and the other is in need of minor repairs. He asked that the buoys be re-installed on the beach prior to mid-December when DNR will return to inspect the beach. Mr. Turner spoke briefly about his observations from being the “Governance” leader at the November 1 Community Meeting of the Sustainable Communities program. (This program, called Audubon International Sustainable Communities Program for the last two years, is being re-titled “Seabrook Island Sustainability Initiative,” or “SI2.”) He noted that Property Owner contributions and questions during the session indicated confusion about who is responsible and what procedures are to be followed in regard to the Island’s permits, rules, and regulations, and he said that he will write about these things in an upcoming “From Town Hall” article in The Seabrooker.

Councilman John Wells reported that the Robert George engineering work is going well, as evidenced by the many surveyor flags that can be seen along Seabrook Island Parkway. SC DHEC’s OCRM (Ocean and Coastal Resource Management) staff have also been onsite to place boundary markers.

Councilman Skip Crane provided Council with highlights of happenings from his involvement in several SIPOA committee and Board meetings, adding that post-Matthew cleanup activities at the Marina and Camp St. Christopher are nearly complete.

Utilities Commissioner Jim Bannwart reported that SIUC’s plant operation is back to normal, adding that they recorded 12.8” of rain in the month of October. He said that SIUC expenses due to Hurricane Matthew include $75,000 expended to date plus about $16,500 soon to be billed. SIUC will raise the sewage rate by 6% beginning in February 2017, the first increase since the Town took over the Utility Commission, producing an increase of about $1.90 per customer. Since Charleston County is not increasing what it charges SIUC, there will be no increase in water rates.

Mayor Ron Ciancio announced the First Reading of Ordinance 2016-10, an Ordinance to Adopt the 2017 Town Budget, and provided some background. This year’s budget development process was much more involved than in the past, with several meetings dedicated to determining the Town’s priorities and deciding which items could be deleted. Projected income of $1,106K is 13% higher than 2016, and projected expense of $1,125K is 22% higher than 2016. Some items included in the higher expense figure include funds to: recruit a new Town Administrator and allow some overlap of the new person’s employment with Randy Pierce for training purposes; remove some Town records to a safe, secure storage site; paint Town Hall, inside and out; allow for part-time help to perform administrative duties as needed; increase the beach patrol budget to allow for greater enforcement and rescue capability; purchase a recording system to replace the Town’s current “historic” equipment; and purchase a new Town vehicle. The Mayor added that a couple of cost estimates might be refined based on planned discussions between the Town and the provider.

The Second Reading of Ordinance 2016-09, An Ordinance to Rezone 2608 Seabrook Island Road and 2450 Bateau Trace, passed; it changes designation from single-family residential to agricultural conversation for those properties that were donated to SIPOA by the SI Green Space Conservancy.

Official minutes of the meeting will be approved at the next Town Council meeting on December 20 and published on the Town’s web site shortly thereafter.

-Submitted by Tidelines Staff


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