Mayor Bill Holtz made it a point to note that this might be the last month that revenues exceed expenditures for a bit, as the Town will be spending some Accomodations Tax (ATAX) money and some reserves on upcoming events and increasing the visibility of the town. Total revenues for the two months ending on February 28, 2011, are $132,063.23, compared to $132,104.93 last year-to-date, and expenditures are $71,056.56; $11,118.12 less than budgeted. Revenues over expenditures are $9,434.35 more than budgeted, coming in at $61,006.67 for the current year-to-date. “This will change as we spend some funds on public relations and advertising,” the Mayor reiterated, “but it’s time to use those funds and get things cooking around here.”
Before moving into the rest of the meeting, Mayor Holtz was happy to acknowledge a few familiar faces in the audience, including the former head of the Planning Commission, Wayne Hockersmith and his wife, Ann, as well as former Town Mayor and former Town Councilman, John Dubois. “We’re glad to see the town in such good hands,” smiled Mr. Hockersmith.
Councilman Sam Reed gave a brief update on the roads consultant, Maurice Washington, noting that the Kiawah Island Community Association (KICA) has taken the lead on the project, although the Town of Seabrook Island is supporting them in their endeavors. Washington will be providing updates to the inter-island steering committee on a monthly basis. In the meantime, he has been meeting with Johns Island residents to discuss how to “make the roads safer and the least disruptive way to do it.”
In terms of the state legislature, Reed noted that he will continue to keep an eye on the Point-of-Sale Assessment legislation currently under discussion as a decision on the issue will ultimately affect the income of the town.
Finding a home for the Johns Island Museum
It was recently brought to Councilman Reed’s attention that Johns Islander Betty Stringfellow would like to donate the Johns Island Museum to the Town of Seabrook Island. The Museum, a restored island schoolhouse built in the mid-1800s, was formerly a part of Rosebank Farms and contains several items of historic memorabilia. Reed stated that he believes she will make arrangements for moving the structure, and that the Seabrook Island Natural History Group (SINHG) has shown a willingness to provide volunteers to maintain it.
“It looks to be in pretty good shape and it’s certainly of historical significance to us,” said Reed.
While Mayor Holtz was quick to note that no decisions on acquiring the structure would be made during the meeting, he did want to briefly discuss their options. “This is a legacy decision,” Holtz pointed out. “Whatever we do with this, it needs to be done carefully, in writing and legally.” He also noted that, as the Town only has three staff members, the responsibility of running the museum could not fall on their shoulders. On the plus side, however, the Town would not only be preserving a piece of island history – the museum would also attract visitors to the town.
Council discussed potential locations for the Museum, such as the back of the Town Hall parking lot which would not only provide parking, but also keep the historic building available to the public, and near Bohicket Marina. By the end of the discussion, however, all Council members agreed that having the museum would be good for the community. Councilman Reed will continue to look into the issue.
Making Seabrook more guest-accessible
Councilman Terry Ahearn reported on the last Visibility Committee meeting, stating that the topic of their last meeting was how to make the island more accessible to people who want to learn about the island while keeping Seabrook private and secure. One idea, which has since been approved by the Property Owners Association (POA) and partially by the Club, would be to send visitors to a Reception Area located inside Seabrook Island Real Estate. There, guests would be given three options for touring the island: view properties for sale with a realtor, go on a guided tour with a realtor who would serve simply as a tour guide, or go on a self-guided tour on an electric cart provided by a local electric cart company. For the self-guided tour, visitors would leave a copy of their license and fill out a registration form and would be given a vehicle for a certain length of time along with a map of the island.
“We’re still working on it, but in general, it’s been approved by other parties,” said Ahearn.
In addition to the options for visitors, Ahearn has also gotten Club approval to provide one day amenity passes to realtors so that they can show potential home buyers around to the Lake House and Island Club, as well as take them to lunch or dinner at the Pelican’s Nest. The realtors would pay with their credit cards and any realtor can apply for a pass.
Ahearn has also been working with the Visibility Committee to determine the best approaches to advertising Seabrook Island both regionally and nationally. The Committee has decided on two approaches for the present time: advertising in the June issue of Southwest’s inflight magazine, and online advertising through PGA.com and Time.com.
“We’ll hit the PGA website pretty heavily during the week of the PGA and the week or two afterward,” said Ahearn, “and our ad with Time.com will spread through various online publications.”
“All of this is being done as a ‘dip your foot in the water’ kind of thing,” said the Mayor. “It’s not a landslide of advertising, we’re just seeing what works and what doesn’t and what kind of response we’ll get, then we’ll evaluate for next year.”
Online video for Seabrook in the works
As head of the website committee, Councilman Jerry Cummin reported that they have been discussing the addition of a video to the town website with web designers, Obviouslee Marketing, and have made a deposit of $5,000. There is currently no schedule for filming, but the committee will be making note of upcoming events around the island which could be included in the production.
Visitors’ Bureau visits the island
On March 23, Seabrook hosted the Charleston Visitors’ Bureau at the Island Club for their monthly meeting. The meeting was held from 4 to 5 p.m. in the Atlantic Room, with a reception in the Carolina Room. Councilman Cummin thanked the Club for their generosity in allowing the CVB to use the room free of charge, and providing food and drink at-cost. “This is an excellent opportunity for the Town, as there is a wide variety of professions represented on the CVB board,” said Cummin. The Council later approved $1200 out of the general fund unanimously to pay for the Town’s share of the CVB reception.
Steve Carroll, owner of Red’s Ice House in Bohicket Marina, agreed, stating that the CVB is a great organization, and as he was the only restaurateur to take the inaugural Southwest Airline flight to Houston, Red’s on Seabrook was featured by the CVB following the event.
Getting ready for the Big Shake
Councilman Rob Savin reported that the Town will be proceeding with an earthquake drill scheduled for April 28 for the southeastern United States. There will be a ten minute period, said Savin, where people would be award of the earthquake drill and would go over what they would do in the real situation. The island CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) will review their procedures and end with a disaster recovery meeting at Red’s Ice House. Savin also noted that an artificial Code Red will go out before the drill begins, which is scheduled to start at 10:30 a.m. He suggested that the Council go over their responsibilities and review what they would be required to do in an earthquake. “We have some surprises planned, too,” said Savin.
Approving the 2011 Governor’s Cup annual Billfish Tournament
Council unanimously approved a temporary permit for Bohicket Marina during the dates of May 10 through the 15 for the annual Governor’s Cup annual Billfish Tournament.
Bike path upgrades and adjusting the audit agreement
Town Administrator Randy Pierce stated that the engineers are currently working on plans for the bike path on the right hand side of Seabrook Island Road as one approaches the main gate. Most of it is pretty simple, said Pierce, but they are still waiting on to finalize what kind of barriers will be used to replace the white, reflector-topped stantions along the causeway. Peirce noted that they are currently looking at using railing similar to what Kiawah used on the back side of the bike path, “Not the bulky ones,” he pointed out. However, they are currently waiting on a liabilities investigation from the engineers. In terms of when the project will begin, Peirce stated that they’ll probably wait until right after the Seabrook Island Run on April 23 to begin the project.
Secondly, in terms of the recent agreement the Town made with public accounting firm Glaser Duncan, Peirce stated that the previously approved expenditure for a three year contract was incorrect and that the agreement with Glaser Duncan had been for $10,000 the first two years and at an amount not to exceed $11,500 the final year. Peirce reminded the Council that this firm was still far less expensive than other bidding companies, and has done an excellent job so far. Council approved the revised contract unanimously.
Signs at Bohicket Marina
Red’s Ice House owner Steve Carroll asked about the issue of signage at Bohicket Marina, a topic which was recently discussed during a town Planning Commission meeting. Carroll stated that changes need to be made in the existing ordinance so that Marina businesses can “gain more exposure and it doesn’t just look like a dark hole back there.” While Carroll was under the impression that the Planning Commission had approved the final draft of changes to the ordinance, the Council informed him that the Commission had not officially voted on it yet and they would have to wait until they were in possession of the approved final draft before voting on it in Council. Administrator Pierce stated that the commission should be voting on it during their upcoming meeting, and it would be put into the form of an ordinance for the next meeting of the Council in April.
Who’s in charge of the Seabrook Utility Commission?
Joe Hall of the Utility Commission was happy to report that they have also hired Glaser Duncan as their auditor so as to make the auditing process easier for both parties. While he had nothing to report concerning the Utility Commission itself, Hall took a moment to explain how the daily operations of the Commission are handled. “You’d be surprised by the amount of paperwork between ourselves and DHEC,” said Hall. According to Hall, DHEC issues permits on water, waste water, deep wells, spray fields – pretty much every aspect of water which the Utility Commission handles on the island. As part of the permit, hundreds of samples are taken during the treatment process once a month and are either handled in-house or sent to a lab, depending on what aspect of the sample needs to be analyzed. On top of that, inspectors come to the facilities once a year and go over all of the monthly reports to check for accuracy, as well as reviews all maintenance records, lab data, calibration of instruments, etc. “Every year there are dozens of people visiting, watching and inspecting us to make sure we’re doing everything as planned,” said Hall.
First reading of Ordinance 2011-03: An ordinance to transfer authority for conducting municipal elections to the board of elections and voter registration of Charleston County.
Due to the fact that the chair of the Election Commission, Gene Corrigan, is leaving Seabrook Island, and the fact that almost all of the elections on Seabrook Island are handled by Charleston County except for the elections only dealing with municipal appointments, the Council unanimously approved the transfer of conducting municipal elections to the board of elections and voter registration of Charleston County. The only difference will be that the Town will be required to pay the poll workers for a full day’s shift during municipal elections. Poll workers are typically compensated $120 – $60 for training and $60 for working on Election Day.