“There’s not an awful lot to talk about,” said Mayor McNulty as he read through this month’s financial report. Revenues for this year-to-date are $587,470.46, which is $118,892.97, or 17%, less than this same time last year. However, it’s better by $54,509.38 than budgeted. “Business licenses, local option and investments are all down,” said the Mayor, but it’s about what they expected. As for expenses, this year-to-date came to $277,374.36, which is $47,930.01 better than what was budgeted. “We still have several items that need to go through, like the audit bill and some legal bills, but we’re on budget and doing better than last year,” the Mayor reported. Revenues over expenditures for this year-to-date are $310,096.10 as opposed to last year’s $399,515.40.
Recoding the Municipal Code
Faye Creel of the Municipal Code Corporation (MCC) presented her company’s process of recodification to the Council, explaining how their employees go through all of the Ordinances passed by the Town and check them against the County and State laws for inconsistencies, and then check them against other Town Ordinances for the same. A proof of the corrected Town Code would then be sent to the Council before the final electronic code and hard copy were compiled. Creel pointed out that the entire code would also be made available on the MCC website, along with the codes of 3,500 other municipalities, for immediate online referencing. The online service also comes with a N.O.W. (New Ordinances on the Web) service, wherein newly passed Ordinances are posted under “electronic updates” on the Town’s code website. The online code is included the first year, but would cost $400/ year after that.
A tree grows in Johns Island
“Last week, the South Carolina Department of Transportation gave a presentation to the Johns Island Council,” said the Mayor. The presentation, which gave an overview of several trees which either need to be removed or significantly trimmed along the narrow Johns Island roads, was given by arborist and Charleston County Planning Commission representative Joel Evans, who was present at today’s Council meeting to give a similar presentation. Evans briefly walked the Council through the criteria for tree removal and trimming, noting that the original number of trees which the DOT recommended for removal was 33. “After examining the trees,” said Evans, “we found that only five trees need to be removed completely, and six need to be trimmed.”
Councilman Holtz asked Evans about the possibility of hiring an arborist to come out and evaluate all of the trees lining Johns Island’s major roads. “It’s something that has to be done and we can’t wait for the bureaucracy; no offense,” he said, apologizing to Evans. “I would support it 100%,” said Evans. Mayor McNulty stated that he would call Kiawah Island Mayor William Wert and discuss the idea. “We’ll see if we can come up with a plan,” said McNulty.
Brian Gagnon of Agility Recovery Solutions was the final speaker at the Council meeting, and his presentation addressed disaster recovery solutions for businesses and municipalities. “We’re like AAA for businesses,” he said. “We take care of power, space and connectivity.” According to Gagnon, Agility is used across the nation and is currently in discussions with the American Red Cross and the federal government for the use of their services. Agility provides either mobile office space or class A office space for their clients in case of disaster, as well as satellite communications and generators of any size, when needed. “We’re endorsed by Ready.gov and FEMA,” said Gagnon. “We’ll have you back up and running in 48 hours.” For more information, visit www.agilityrecovery.com.
Mayor McNulty thanked Gagnon, noting that the Town is working with Scott Cave at the moment, but stated that their services sounded like something they should consider.
Fixin’ up the office
Under capital expenditures, Mayor McNulty remarked that there were a handful of items that needed to be taken care of around Town Hall, including a replacement computer server, the recodification of the Ordinances, the completion of the men’s room (“We finished the ladies room first, so now we need to take care of the men’s room,” the Mayor smiled), retiling the foyer, new carpet, and a new color copier. The total of the expenditures comes to approximately $56,000. “However, we just found out that our current generator provides enough power to keep our lights going, but not enough power to keep the computers going,” said the Mayor. “We have an estimate for no more than $40,000 on a new generator, but that would bring the total on capital expenditures to $100,000.” After approving the loan to the Utility Commission (see next section), the available general fund balance is approximately $876,300. After the expenditures, but with the inclusion of the emergency fund balance, the Mayor stated that there would still be approximately $1,101,300.00 available for the Town’s protection. The Council approved $100,000 for capital expenditures unanimously.
Loan to the Utility Commission
Mayor McNulty reported that he had met with a financial representative and stated that he is comfortable with placing the $425,000 needed by the Utility Commission to serve as temporary insurance for their bondholders in two year CDs. He stated that he spoke with the Town attorney about the situation and the attorney suggested that the Town loan that amount to the Utility Commission with the expectation of having the loan amount plus interest returned to the Town. “About seven things still need to be done, but it will be handled and insured,” said the Mayor. The $425,000 is protected up to $250,000 by the FDIC, and the bank has agreed to pledge government securities for the remaining amount.
Also, since the Town has historically given $200,000 each year to the Utility Commission to distribute back to its customers, the Mayor felt that the Town needed to continue with that practice. “We know we’re down from last year, but we’re on safe ground as to where we’ll be at the end of the year,” said the Mayor before suggesting the Town give $400,000 to the Utility Commission – $200,000 for last year, which the Town missed, and $200,000 for this year. “We’re still discussing how we’ll do this, but we’ll figure it out,” said McNulty. The motion to give $400,000 to the Utility Commission to be given back to its clients was approved unanimously.
Funding the General Fund
Mayor McNulty applauded Town Administrator Randy Pierce for renegotiating the cost of the Comprehensive Plan rewrite from $10,000 down to $4,530, and requested approval for returning the remaining $5,470 to the General Fund. The motion was approved unanimously. In the same vein, McNulty noted that the $20,500 in the Court Bank Account did not see much use except in paying judges and the occasional class for Council and Town staff. The Mayor suggested moving all but $5,000 in that account back into the General Fund. The motion was also approved unanimously.
Approval of the Charleston Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan
The Town has traditionally accepted the Charleston Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan every year and Town Administrator Peirce pointed out that not much had changed in this year’s plan. By accepting the Hazard Mitigation Plan, said Pierce, the Town receives credit toward their flood insurance coverage. “My flood insurance keeps going up, but I’m sure you’re doing a good job,” Councilman Holtz joked.
To read the full document, visit www.charlestoncounty.org, click on “News” and select “Charleston County Updates Hazard Mitigation Plan”. The Council approved the acceptance of the Plan unanimously.
First reading of Ordinance 2009-05: Jenkins Point property rezoning
“This went through the Planning Commission and has been posted for two months,” said Pierce. “The Planning Commission recommends approval.” The Ordinance is to rezone .25 acres that is being subdivided from Parcel 149-00-00-059 (residual acreage of Jenkins Point Plantation) from Agricultural General to Agricultural Single Family. A parcel will be then subdivided from 149-00-00-005 and combined with the .25 acres to create Lot #62 to make a 1.01 acre lot. Council approved the Ordinance unanimously.
Charleston Visitors Bureau
Katie Chapman of the Charleston Visitors Bureau was happy to report that their press coverage book for Charleston is getting bigger and bigger each year. She gave a copy of the book to the Council, as well as a copy of their newly released Wedding book. Chapman also noted that they have received 22 mentions in national publications as a result of the Travel Writers Association visit in June.
The next Seabrook Island Town Council meeting will be held at 2:30pm in Council Chambers on September 22, with a Public Hearing on Ordinance 2009-05 taking place at 2:20pm.