Mayor Bill Holtz reported that the Town is currently running $83,376.51 ahead of the year-to-date budget and is almost steady with the revenues from last year-to-date. Expenditures are running $43,294.26 more than budgeted, but excess of revenues over expenditures are approximately $3000 above last year, coming in at $290,761.36. “We’re having a decent year,” said Mayor Holtz, though he noted his concern that the county and state are cutting back on what they pass on to the various municipalities in terms of accommodations taxes (ATAX). “We’re not sure what’s coming up next year, so we’ve written a conservative budget with no major expenditures except spending ATAX,” said Holtz.
Councilman Sam Reed reported that there is little going on with the roads right now, except for the recent repaving of Betsy Kerrison Boulevard, which is done every 11 years or so with sales tax funds.
Apart from roads, Reed noted that he attended the Berkeley, Charleston, Dorchester Council of Governments (BCDCOG) meeting on December 6 and spoke with several key staff people. There was a spirited discussion wherein the town of Awendaw requested permission to become a designated management agent, and even though they pointed out that they didn’t necessarily want the control that came along with it, there was concern that they could potentially block the building of new water and sewer for future developments. “So the question was, ‘Does a town have the right to block development by denying water and sewer going through their town?’” said Reed. The discussion was later tabled, but it was informative, nonetheless.
Club and POA meeting, “declared domestic partners” and spreading the word about Seabrook
Councilman Terry Ahearn reported that he attended the annual Club and POA meeting, and that both are doing well financially and both are reporting good cash flow. The POA was able to save some money last year, with the end result being that assessments are within $10 of last year, “so they did a good job of managing that,” said Ahearn. The POA also voted on bylaw and covenant changes to be voted on for the next referendum, most of which just had to do with cleaning up the current bylaws and protective covenants. As the document is quite large, residents can view it online on the POA website and five page summaries will be available which note all of the significant changes.
Of particular note during the meeting was the proposal of a new definition to be added to the documents as proposed by Warren Kimball. The proposal is to redefine the meaning of “declared domestic partner.” “It doesn’t mean what you might be thinking,” said Ahearn with a smile. “It could be a mother and adult daughter living on the same property, and it would give the declared domestic partner the rights that the spouse would have.” Ahearn noted that it was thoroughly researched and that USC has similar term. The proposal was discussed, but Ahearn did not say whether or not there was a vote on the rephrasing.
Holtz asked that Ahearn and Reed make sure that the POA keeps the Town informed if they are doing anything in Columbia concerning the discussions over a potential new property transfer tax. “I don’t mind [them doing it], they have strong legal committee, I just don’t want them operating all alone without us being notified,” said Holtz.
In terms of the Visibility Committee, Ahearn noted that things have slowed down a bit with the discussions with the outside visibility consultant. They have received a revised proposal which looks good, but they weren’t able to go over it entirely before today’s council meeting, so he noted that he would bring it up during the next council meeting in January. Two members of the Visibility Committee have stated that they will serve again this coming year, and Ahearn is waiting to hear from the rest. Lastly, Ahearn stated that there is an ugly rumor going on around realtors and other parties that the Seabrook Club is bankrupt and going under, which is entirely untrue, but it’s scaring potential buyers away. “I suggested we have a forum of realtors in either late January or early February, have coffee and rolls and do a presentation on island about its history, financials, membership rules, etc. so know what’s going on, then take them on tour of amenities,” said Ahearn. The Club, he noted, agreed to foot the bill to do this and would make a meeting place available. Joe Salvo also saw the wisdom of it and will be collecting a list of brokers that they could contact for the presentation, “So that’s moving along,” said Ahearn.
Councilman Jerrry Cummin reported that the Charleston Visitor’s Bureau will hold their March meeting on Seabrook, and representatives from all spectrums of the community will be in attendance. “It’s a great chance to show what’s going on around Seabrook,” said Cummin.
In website news, Cummin reported that the group designing the site, Obviouslee Marketing, recently gave a presentation on the new website to all major island entities, and everyone thought it looked great. The website is now up and running, and may be viewed at www.TownOfSeabrookIsland.com. “Freshfields was very excited, because the website will also feature a community calendar, which allows authorized representatives to post events to this one calendar,” said Cummin, “and if you want a list of events at the Marina or Club or for the POA, you can individualize. It ought to work well for everyone.” “We had a great committee and they did a lot of work,” said Cummin, noting that they started the project in February 2010 and have a great website as the result. Mayor Holtz remarked that the timing was great, too, as it was launched at the beginning of the new year, and was financed 100% with ATAX funds.
Residents are a-CERT-ing themselves
Councilman Rob Savin was happy to note that ten new individuals will be participating in the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) as of the first of the year, and the team will be meeting quarterly in Town Hall. He also noted that Kiawah is in the process of forming their own CERT, though the two will remain separate entities. “ We will communicate with them, though,” said Savin. “They’re going to look at our trailer and go from there. It’s pretty easy, really.”
Water rate increase reactions
“ I know everyone is concerned about the rate increase in October,” said Joe Hall of the Seabrook Utility Commission, but he was happy to report that they only had one person call about the increase, who asked why the Utility Commission couldn’t take all of their cash reserves and subsidize the increase. “It was very easy to answer because all of our cash reserves are to satisfy bond covenants,” said Hall, “There’s been no other word besides that. “
The Seabrook Island Council made their annual appointments at the end of the meeting, appointing Stephen L. Brown as Town Attorney, Randy M. Pierce as Zoning Administrator, and Faye Allbritton as Town Clerk. Commission appointments included Janet Gorski, who will be replacing Tom Sivert on the Planning Commission for a term to expire on December 31, 2012; Jerry Farber and Ike Smith to the Board of Zoning Appeals for terms to expire on December 31, 2015; and the re-appointment of Nada Connolly, Diane Holtz, Joan Hylander, Charlene Kreusch, Eric Nielson, Kathleen Rogers and Stuart Spisak to the ATAX Advisory Committee for terms to expire on December 31, 2012.
All of the appointments were approved unanimously. “We might have some adjustment in ATAX, but they all seem to be pretty happy with it and it’s good to have other people look at it so all of the funds aren’t spent from just the Council’s perspective,” said Holtz.
Changes to the zoning map for 2010
Town Administrator Randy Peirce reported that every year at the end of year, any changes to the zoning map by the Planning Commission and Council are made and Council gives their final approval. There were only two changes this year: A portion of the Ocean Winds condos wherein a pool area was subdivided from the community so that the pool house could be torn down and three condos built, and lot #7 at Baypoint, which was deeded to the conservation group and rezoned from multi-family to conservation. The Ocean Winds subdivision doesn’t require any physical changes to the map, and Pierce noted that the build is currently delayed until someone purchases it. Council approved both changes unanimously.
Mayor Holtz noted that the Planning Commission has asked that Councilman Sam Reed serve as a representative to guide them in looking through their year plan and see if there are things that they should be looking into in order to cut down on spending. Savin also recommended that the Council get in touch with the POA as they are looking into doing a study on finding the island’s “sense of place” which might tie into the Visibility Committee’s work. Lastly, Holtz remarked that they are looking into their $440,000 bond with Utility Commission to see if there are any alternatives to helping with the cost of insuring their bonds until the insurance problem is fixed.
Before closing the meeting, all of Council wished everyone happy holidays.