By Katy Calloway, Managing Editor for Island Connection
The first Kiawah Town Council meeting of 2018 was held on Jan. 9 with a full council in attendance, including the Town’s attorney Dwayne Green and Town Administrator, Stephanie Tillerson, all seated at the bench. December’s meeting minutes were approved unanimously without changes or comments. The Mayor’s update included a couple of items. The beach re-nourishment project, which was delivered in two parts, is nearing completion. Phase one was aimed at replenishing sand along the areas close to structures near the Ocean Course and Turtle Point alongside the ocean. This phase was completed in December. The second phase of the project, completed under a separate permit, allowed for re-nourishment along Eugenia Ave., The Beach Club and The Sanctuary. While work along Eugenia Ave. and The Beach Club was completed, the winter weather set back the work at The Sanctuary, but it was expected to be completed within the week. Mayor Weaver stated he is pleased with the work being done and reported that the project was coming in at, or under, the proposed budget. Regarding the winter storm impact on the island, Weaver said he anticipates hearing well-meaning suggestions from residents on how the Town could handle future snow and ice storms and he attempted to pre-empt concerns by declaring that, “some things you can’t reasonably plan for.” Weaver felt that both KICA and Town staff performed reasonably and to the best of their ability adding, “We handled it as best we could. Nobody got hurt. The residents did the right thing.” He thanked Stephanie Braswell and Stephanie Tillerson for collecting and disseminating as much information as was possible during the inclement weather, as well as police officers for their presence and assistance escorting drivers along icy roads, and other Town staff for their efforts during the storm. The meeting was then opened to citizen’s comments, of which there were none. Moving on to the first item of business, the approval of the Town Attorney contract, Mayor Weaver made a two-part motion to approve a contract services agreement with Hampton Green, LLC for Town attorney services, and to reappoint Dwayne Green as Town Attorney. With no discussion, Council voted unanimously to approve both items.
As an information item, councilmember’s responsibilities and roles were reviewed and there were no changes to appointments or liaisons for 2018, with one exception. Councilmember Mezzanotte chaired the 2017 audit committee and the baton was passed to Councilmember Jack Koach for 2018. Mayor Weaver thanked councilmembers for taking on the committee roles. Committee memberships, approved over the January and February meetings, included one change to the previous year’s Arts & Events Council roster: Robert Hill has become the Operations Support Member. The Planning Commission, the Audit Committee and the Public Safety Committee had no changes in charters or appointments.
Four contracts were proposed for approval including: the beach franchise agreement with Island Beach Services; a preventative maintenance contract for seasonal upkeep of Town buildings with Triad Mechanical; the Greenery’s Kiawah Parkway proposal to repair landscaping damaged by flooding and severe rain and the parkway engineering services proposal from Soil Consultants, Inc. that will evaluate the Kiawah Island Parkway, its drainage system, and determine any necessary repairs and upgrades. Mayor Weaver reported that the Ways and Means committee had recommended all four proposals be approved as is. They were passed unanimously. There was one ordinance up for first reading under new business, effecting rental properties. The amendment would create a partnership with the SC Department of Revenue to increase compliance on tax payments from rental properties, in an effort to catch those property owners who are currently not submitting the state, county and local accommodations taxes appropriately. A motion was made and seconded to approve the first reading.
Dorota Szubert, Town Treasurer, reiterated the purpose of the ordinance, that it was another tool to enforce all applicable taxes for rentals. Mayor Weaver added that since property owners don’t pay Town property taxes, the Town wants to be sure that proper business taxes are collected where they are due. The motion passed unanimously. Town Administrator, Stephanie Tillerson reported on a recent article in The Post & Courier that mentioned Kiawah as inactive members of CARTA. Tillerson pointed out that Kiawah representatives do attend CARTA meetings and are active Board members, regardless of the limited service of CARTA to Johns Island. Mayor Weaver interpreted the newspaper’s implication as, “Why is Kiawah on the CARTA Board if they have no stake in the game?” He went on to state, “that while Kiawah has about 1% of the population of Charleston County we currently pay somewhere between 13-15% of all property taxes, which are paying for a large part of CARTA services.” Committee updates were sparse, but did include a note on Arts Council events.
The first event of 2018 will be Quentin Baxter at the Turtle Point Clubhouse. Art Films begin Friday and will be held at Town Hall. There were a couple of closing citizens comments. Diane Leader inquired about the Town’s plans to review the oil drilling issue again and what their action may be. Mayor Weaver responded saying he assumes that Council will uphold its previous position but admitted that Council had not recently discussed the issue. Leader went on to express concern that coverage of the Town meetings by The Island Connection newspaper was not being done by a reporter on site.
Weaver responded by stating that meetings are streamed live on-line. Additional comments urged the Town to take a position on the current oil drilling issue. It was suggested that the community be surveyed and the Town Council represent the opinions of their constituents. The meeting was adjorned without further business. The next meeting of the Town of Kiawah Council will be Feb. 6 at 2 p.m.
Editor’s note: Town of Kiawah Council meetings are streamed live online and archived on Youtube.com for public viewing. Access them at Youtube.com/channel/ UCZPdzYPLYRG-jSEy0Pq24QQ.