Following Mayor Ron Ciancio’s Financial Report, Councilman John Gregg reported on several subjects. The Public Safety Committee has defined priorities for the post-disaster road clearing that will enable vehicle access to the S.I. Utility’s sewage pumping “lift” stations. The February 23rd meeting of the Disaster Recovery Council (which includes representatives from the Town, SIPOA, Club, Marina, Camp St. Christopher, and St. Johns Fire District) was dedicated to reviewing the DRC consultant’s feedback about the January 5th-6th “hurricane” scenario training exercise; the next DRC meeting will be in April. Progress has been made on the Town’s application for FEMA’s Federal Disaster Grant Assistance for debris removal, emergency protective measures, repair of disaster-damaged publicly owned facilities, etc. The Town is completing FEMA worksheets that define the approximately $95K expense incurred by the Town and the Utility Commission as they completed Hurricane Matthew cleanup and repair.
Mr. Gregg announced that Disaster Awareness Day will be held on June 15, 2017. Sponsored jointly by the Towns of Kiawah Island and Seabrook Island, the 2017 event will again be held at the Seabrook Island Club. In addition to informative presentations by local and regional Emergency Management officials, there will be displays by vendors of preparedness/response equipment and services. The day’s agenda will include lunch at the Club and prize drawings during breaks in the program. As Council approved a motion to spend up to $6K for the event, Mayor Ciancio noted that Kiawah is expected to contribute $1500, reducing the Town’s actual expense to $4500.
Councilman Jody Turner reported that Janet Thibault of SC-DNR visited North Beach twice in December and twice again in January for DNR’s regular evaluation of conditions for Piping Plovers. Each visit lasts about six hours and involves a team of scientists testing for levels of (bird) food content in the sand. Mr. Turner was happy to report that Ms. Thibault saw no incidence of people or dogs in the protected area and that she considers the new buoy approach to marking the protected Dog Off-Leash Area to be quite adequate.
Councilman John Wells reported on current activities of the Robert George engineering project: profiling sections of Seabrook Island Road that are subject to flooding; measuring existing stormwater drainage capacity as originally designed; evaluating stormwater drainage infrastructure for structural condition; and meeting with OCRM to determine the extent of repair that OCRM will allow to our stormwater control “flapper gates” that are located in OCRM-protected buffers. In preparation for discussions with other stakeholders in the project, the team will discuss any legal issues related to easements along Seabrook Island Road with the Town’s lawyer.
Councilman Skip Crane gave a brief report on activities of the community groups he meets with, adding that the Marina has sealed and restriped its parking lot. He also reported that Bohicket Marina and Bohicket Marina Village have jointly hired Jon Guerra Taylor & Associates, a professional engineering/planning/environmental consulting firm, to perform an erosion analysis near D Dock and recommend corrective action.
Mr. Crane announced that the Town is establishing a collection point where residents may drop off American flags that they wish to discard. The Town will arrange for proper disposal of the flags.
Mr. Crane said that Charleston County will sponsor three Public Open Houses (March 20-22) for public review of the new FEMA Flood Maps.
For background on development of the new Flood Insurance Rate Maps, follow this link to a January Seabrooker article: http://www.townofseabrookisland.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/FebruarySeabrookerWeb2.pdf
Sponsored by SC DNR and FEMA, the events will provide an opportunity for attendees to view the new maps and ask questions of FEMA insurance specialists and the engineers who completed the study. Charleston County Building Inspection Services staff will also be available to assist citizens with property information. Following the Open Houses, FEMA will allow a 90-day period for public comment, appeal, and complaint, and then FEMA will proceed to finalize the maps. FEMA expects finalization to be completed in 2018, at which time the maps will become the new basis for flood zone definitions and flood insurance calculations. The Town will publish date and location of the Open Houses, along with the County’s announcement flyer, in the weekly SIPOA Highlights eBlast and on Tidelines.
Finally, Mr. Crane reported on a recent meeting where the Lou Hammond Group (the marketing firm hired jointly by Town-SIPOA-Club) proposed their 2017 Advertising Plan and provided results of their audit of the Town’s website. Advertising, focusing primarily on Atlanta and Charlotte areas, will include Southern Living magazine and several publications local to Atlanta and Charlotte. The LHG proposal includes supporting tourism visits to Seabrook Island by two different travel professionals, following up on leads such as responding to magazine “tear out” requests for island tourism information, and making some improvements to the Town’s website. Council voted to approve the 2017 marketing plan and its $86,537 expense (which is paid from our Accommodations Tax funding).
Mayor Ron Ciancio announced that the Town was approached by Morpho Trust USA, a contractor who operates a mobile unit for enrolling people in the Transportation Security Administration’s TSA Pre✓ ® program. Liking the concept, the Town has arranged for the mobile unit to be at the Town’s parking lot from April 3rd to April 6th. The $85 fee for the TSA Pre✓ ® processing is the same amount charged at airports, and applicants will be able to save time by pre-registering online. Announcements will be posted in the weekly SIPOA Highlights eBlast and on Tidelines.
The Mayor then described status of two bills under evaluation in the SC Legislature that, if passed, will have a significant effect on the Town’s finances: H3650 (SC Business License Tax Standardization Act, to “distinguish between license fees and taxes municipalities may levy and collect for risks located within and outside the municipality”), and H3651 (Business License and Insurance Taxes, to “provide that the amount must be paid to the municipality instead of the municipal agent”). Per Mayor Ciancio, these bills would standardize business licensing and taxation and make the State responsible for classification of contractors, collecting licensing fees, and issuing licenses. The Mayor is closely monitoring progress of these bills, pulling together specifics on how they would affect the Town’s administrative operations and finances, and communicating the Town’s concerns to our State Representative and Senator.
Utilities Commissioner Tim Morawski reported that SIUC’s January’s operations met all permit requirements. He said the Commissioners met to discuss software conversion issues related to monthly billings and how to handle catching up on the billing that they have been unable to issue. Rather than send bills for the lump sum owed for the recent unbilled months, they will reduce billing cycles from the customary 25 days to 20 days (issuing bills more frequently) and become current with billing by this Summer.
Official minutes of the meeting will be approved at the next Town Council meeting and published on the Town’s web site shortly thereafter.
-Submitted by Tidelines Staff