By Gregg Bragg, The Island Connection Sr. Staff Writer
Mayor Craig Weaver opened the March 3 Council meeting of the Town of Kiawah Island with a verbal ellipses, “The first subject is one that you’re going to hear over and over… over the next eight to 12 weeks. … As you’ve seen, our parkway renewal/ repaving project is now starting. The schedule has gone out, and I think what you’ll see is … night work will give way to several weeks of daytime work along the fringes and turn lanes, followed by more night work in April and May as a final 3 inches of pavement is added to the entire length of the area.” The mayor concluded his remarks by celebrating the official opening of the Kiawah Island Golf Resort’s efforts to ring in the 2021 PGA event at the Ocean Course.
Kiawah resident Wendy Kulick spawned a general discussion and apparent agreement that the town will list the states that do and don’t participate in AirMedCare’s program. AMC currently has an agreement with Kiawah Island and other local municipalities to provide helicopter transport in the case of a life-threatening emergency within Charleston County. All residents are covered by the program and for a small, additional premium of $35 can extend the privilege to approximately 31 states. The program limits costs to either the amount covered by insurance or the Medicare allowed amount, so long as AMC provides the transportation.
There was a good deal of discussion, and Council member Chris Widuch pointed out the service has never been used by a Kiawah resident. It was an interesting question, given that AMC has closed its program to new organizations, according to Council member Maryanne Connelly. It was also noted the Medical University of South Carolina has its own plans for helicopter transportation, which is still something of an abstract for Kiawah. The Council was swayed, however, by the “better to have it than wish” argument and voted unanimously in favor of renewal.
Discussion of the “noise ordinance” was next on the hit parade. Both the community association and the town have such an ordinance on the books. However, the mayor pointed to a problem with the first paragraph of the town’s ordinance, which restricts sound to a property’s boundaries between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.
“We have had a real problem arise with this in the last year [in] the Duneside and Timbers area,” said the mayor.
Pool equipment was running 24/7, and, while efforts to mitigate the problem have been attempted, the ordinance makes no allowance for that kind of noise. For example, every HVAC system on the island makes noise across property lines, said Weaver. The question the mayor asked was: “Should we move forward with changes [using 60 decibels as a strawman].” The Council’s acclamation was to move forward with a staff investigation of the issue and potential solutions.
Town Administrator Stephanie Tillerson then took the reins to brief the Council on the contract with the Dennis Corporation for improvements and repaving of Kiawah Island Parkway. Dennis is being considered as an additional sanity/quality check on the project and would be engaged for 30 hours at a cost of $28,400. They have previously done work with the town and added only 1% to the total cost of the project. The request was approved.
The mayor prefaced the next item of new business as a matter for the Ways and Means Committee. The committee didn’t meet in February, though there was a “special” Ways and Means meeting for items related to the parkway. A summary of the 2020-2021 budget was pushed to the regular meeting of the Council.
Town Treasurer Dorota Szubert opened with a history lesson dating back to the recession of 2008. Revenue sources are not as consistent as she would like, mostly as a result of reporting going to the county instead of the town. She added that the town is in good financial shape. She said, however, that the town is trending toward a reduction in new construction, which means lower than anticipated revenue.
She also said the town would not suffer adverse impacts from passage of SC H4431, the business license tax reform legislation currently making its way through the state Legislature. Szubert said Kiawah may have to adjust corresponding ordinances but that amendments to the legislation leave determining fees to local governments. This keeps the town’s revenue projections relatively flat. A review of expenses by the Ways and Means Committee is the next step in the budget process.
Kulick asked if the town had anything in place to address the looming coronavirus. The mayor responded by saying he had just finished discussing the matter.
Communication is the key, and while Kiawah seems unlikely to be hard hit, there is exposure given the amount of tourism the island enjoys.
The mayor stressed that responding to something like a pandemic is driven by state and federal authorities but that infrastructure is already in place, and the town will not be starting from scratch.