By Gregg Bragg, The Island Connection Staff Writer
Pledges were recited and minutes were approved by Seabrook Island Town Council late in August. The mayor reported revenues for the month came in $21,000 above expectations while the council spent $1,300 less than planned.
The steady march of cash positive reports puts Seabrook in position to boast of being just over $357,000 ahead of budget for the year.
The mayor then turned his attention to a busier than usual agenda, which included guest speaker Brenda Mitchell with the South Carolina State Fiscal Accountability Authority (SFAA). Mitchell provided an overview of the town’s insurance.
SFAA is the single source of insurance for municipalities as mandated by The Restructuring Act of 2014. The SFAA is overseen by South Carolinas’ governor, treasurer, comptroller general, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. SFAA provides central administrative support services for insurance (and related fields), and by pooling risks, it is able to keep premiums at rock bottom.
Mitchell detailed the coverages carried by Seabrook. They include: auto liability, comprehensive and collision (auto), buildings and personal property, inland marine (misc. items), general tort liability and coverage for Business Interruption and Extra Expense. According to Athena Christianson, SFAA Field Services Manager, the premiums for all of this costs a scooch less than $13,679 a year, though the number may change.
The presentation ended with several councilmembers requesting a quote for “Data” coverage, the only item on the SFAA menu not currently held by Seabrook.
Councilmember John Gregg said the Seabrook Island Club met earlier in the month and had made incremental progress on the 2017 strategic plan. The goal at this early stage is to buff and fluff an objective statement for the plan being considered. Once the statement is in place, steps will be added to the framework to achieve it.
Gregg then turned to the first of several motions in his report. He requested approval of an intergovernmental agreement for disaster debris removal with Charleston County. The standby contract with Phillips & Jordan will remain, Gregg cautioned. However, the agreement with the county means reducing duplication and leveraging Federal Emergency Management Agency funds to the benefit of Seabrook. Mayor Ronald Ciancio chimed in to the discussion asking if the measure included authorizing him to sign it, and everyone in the room chuckled their approval. The measure passed unanimously.
Speaking of Phillips & Jordan, Gregg then moved to continue the agreement for another year, wisely adding the caveat the mayor was authorized to sign the pact.
More chuckles accompanied the motion/ comment, and the measure passed unanimously. The previously reported issue of allowing contractors to access Seabrook for when residents are not is still being worked out.
Gregg’s third motion was consistent with last month’s vow to resolve the contract with AirMedCare. Gregg said it would be ready for a vote in August and here it was. AirMedCare was the only “air Ambulance” service to respond to a request for proposal from Seabrook. The issue of coverage for the remainder of 2016 was worked out and the contract runs through 2017.
The 16-month contract will cost the town $9,236 with funding for the 2017 portion of the contract to be budgeted for later this fall. Effective with the agreement, AirMedCare will provide emergency air ambulance service for Seabrook residents within Charleston County with a co-pay limited to either the passenger’s insurance limits or the Medicare approved amount as applicable. The service usually costs upward of $25,000 a trip.
Councilmember John Turner reported the new buoy signs (cords from the beach to a float in the water) used to mark areas where dogs are allowed to roam free needed attention. One of the lines was untethered and needed to be reattached but Turner thought the signs were an effective improvement. He also reported static on some of the radios used by town officials but thought the issue would soon be resolved.
Councilmember John Wells said the details with Bob George (the engineering firm selected to resolve drainage issues along the parkway) had been worked out and an agreement signed. The first priority will be to establish property lines followed by negotiations with the owners for any work which could impact their land. Wells thinks the work will take about four months.
Wells continued with a report on advertising/website. Obviouslee Marketing was continuing with their summer projects and would be prepared with a fall overview of their efforts in time for the September meeting of council, he reported. He reiterated last month’s report describing a recent change in the way Southern Living was using card ticketing to advance Seabrook. The concept is to tear a perforated card out of the magazine and return it to Seabrook, checking boxes on the card to indicate subjects the reader wants to explore.
Councilmember Skip Crane reported Bohicket Marina had completed the task of installing the new pilings in the launch area. He concluded his report by commenting on how quiet August had been.
Last month, the mayor reported he and his counterparts on Kiawah contacted Russell Sobel to do an economic impact study. Sobel is a professor of economics with the school of business at The Citadel.
The study will examine the spending patterns of Seabrook/Kiawah residents in Charleston and on Johns Island, how many jobs are created and volunteer hours and taxes contributed to the adjacent regions.
The study was approved and will move forward starting in September. However, it may not help make the case for a cross Island parkway.
The mayor reported that following a meeting with City of Charleston Mayor Tecklenburg to discuss roads and traffic congestion, “there was no appetite for the cross island parkway.” The solution promoted by elected officials on Seabrook/Kiawah was proffered as a less expensive, less invasive solution to traffic congestion.
Widening Main road from Bees Ferry to Maybank is still listed as a priority project and possibly widening Maybank itself. However, absent approval for extending I-526 the mayor also said those projects provided, “insufficient benefit to Seabrook.” Consequently Ciancio said he would not support the half cent sales tax increase requested by the City of Charleston, which is slated for a vote this November.
Ciancio then announced Town Administrator Randy Pierce would be out of commission for up to six weeks for surgery and asked for support. He also announced the retirement of long term Seabrook Island Utility Commissioner Jeff Bostock. The mayor praised Bostock’s many contributions to the community, including Seabrook’s Horizon Plan, and wished him the best of luck before turning the utility report over to Jim Bannwart, chairman of the Water & Sewer Commissioners.
Bannwart reported “normal” activity for the month of July and said the deep well was working again. But he warned August’s report would not be as rosy. An amount of $50,000 to repair the deep well will be included in next month’s financials, and reserves will be impacted by repayment of a $150,000 loan from Seabrook Island Town Council. Supplying freshwater had produced a profit while wastewater had, again, resulted in a loss, said Bannwart. The recurring pattern prompted the commission’s approval of a 6 percent increase for wastewater treatment.
The move will mean an increase of $1.95/resident/month. He concluded his report by informing council the sewer feed from town hall had been repaired and an invoice for $6,000 is in the mail.
The only action item on the agenda was Ordinance 2016-08. The measure updates the development standards ordinance to allow political signs on private property for 30 days prior to an event and two days after the event. The discussion which followed included agreement political signs could not be posted on town property. There were no objections to the measure and it passed unanimously.
There being no further business and nothing else for the mayor to sign, the meeting was adjourned.