Jun 11 2010

Seabrook Town Council – May 25, 2010

Town Financials

Mayor Bill Holtz opened the meeting by reading through the Town’s financials to date. “We didn’t have a good revenue month, but we’re ahead of budget and only $13,216.38behind last year, which isn’t a disaster,” he said, noting that if the town’s revenue continues to be low, they might have to make some adjustments on the expense side. However, expenses came in at $36,334.04 under budget and the excess of revenues over expenditures was $72,152.49 compared to $108,854.76 last year.

Councilman Sam Reed asked a couple pointed questions concerning the budget, mainly concerning the low income from Accomodations Tax and the increase in spending under the “legal” category.

Town Clerk Faye Albritton replied that Accomodations Tax was low because they are just now getting into the tourist season and the payments are usually a month or so behind. As for the legal category, Holtz stated that he’s been utilizing the Town Attorney, Steve Brown, when he has legal questions. “When in doubt, I call Mr. Brown because I don’t want to make a judgment call without sound advice.”

Preparing for disaster

Councilman Rob Savin reported that he would be attending a meeting at the Charleston County disaster office on June 8, and that he received a letter from Charleston County stating that the County had partnered with the Seventh Day Adventists in order to use their plan for the distribution of supplies in case of an emergency. “I’ll attend that meeting, for one reason to find out how the Seventh Day Adventists got involved in the first place,” said Savin.

Savin also reminded everyone about the Disaster Awareness Day at the Sandcastle on Kiawah Island, Thursday, June 10, from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., and noted that the town would be holding a disaster drill in conjunction with Charleston County on June 15.

“Seabrook will activate our disaster plan and see how we do,” said Savin, adding that there would be no “disaster victims” for this drill, just a tabletop disaster drill from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. The drill will include bringing together at least one representative from each island entity, and the testing of communications equipment from different parts of the island. Scott Cave from Atlantic Business Continuity Services, the author of the town’s comprehensive disaster plan, is scheduled to be on hand for the entire exercise.

“The only thing I want to come out of this is that each of us has a better idea of what we have to do in a disaster recovery mode,” said Mayor Holtz.

Council later approved $1500 to go toward Cave’s services, which not only include his supervision during the drill, but he will also be composing and staging the entire drill for the town.

New Seabrook website progressing

“We’re working on it,” said Councilman Jerry Cummin. “We have another meeting this Thursday and we’re close to making a recommendation, but we’re not quite there yet.”

With the use of a laptop projector, Cummin showed the Council an example of the old website versus the current website, which features several visual and navigational alterations done by Shawna Jarrett of the POA. Cummin pointed out the use of several beautiful pictures provided by Bob Hider, as well as the many links to activities and attractions around the islands.

“We certainly owe Shawna a lot of thanks for what she’s done,” said Cummin. “When we finally select who we’re going to use, the website might look different, but the idea is similar to this.”

Mayor Holtz complimented Shawna for the great job on the site and Councilman Savin chimed in, stating that, even for an initial site, the photography was excellent and seemed to fit to a T.

Transfer fees, wind energy and roads report

Councilman Sam Reed brought up an email he received from John Thompson, executive director of the POA, just before he arrived at the Council meeting. The email, said Reed, expressed concern that the legislature is making an effort to repeal the right of community associations to collect transfer fees at the time a property is sold. “This is the sole means of financing for our loan,” said Reed, in reference to the Horizon Plan loan. “The movement is to attach an amendment to House Bill 4174 which would kill the right for community associations to collect transfer fees at the time the property is sold. You can send your thought to the legislature concerning this. We could be in trouble in paying back our loan if this goes through.”

Councilman Terry Ahearn elaborated, stating that the current structure allows for developers in the state to attach fees to the transfer of properties that they develop, so that every time the property is sold, they collect money. The purpose of the bill is to stop allowing developers to collect those fees, but it’s worded so that it catches community associations in the same.

Reed then reminded council that the Municipal Association of South Carolina will have their annual meeting in downtown Charleston this July 15 – 18. “I would encourage those with interest to take a look at that,” he said.

Lastly, before going into roads, Reed stated that he attended a wind energy meeting held by Coastal Carolina University, Clemson and Santee Cooper in North Charleston recently and discussed the possibility of wind farms along the coast, though Reed quickly pointed out that the discussion centered mainly on the Georgetown/Myrtle Beach area as opposed to the Charleston area. “5% of the world’s population is in the United States, but we use 25% of the world’s energy, so need to improve our sources,” said Reed. “Atomic and wind energy are infinite, unlimited.”

Finally, in terms of roads, Reed reported that the staff at Charleston County received a report from the LPA, but he has not yet seen it. “It will be most interesting to see what they come up with,” said Reed. “I’m just hoping some kind of plan will come out of this to improve Johns Island roads,” said Mayor Holtz.

Kiawah Days on Seabrook and bringing visibility to Seabrook

Councilman Terry Ahearn reported that he spoke with Pat Welsh, co-owner of Bohicket Marina, about the new Seabrook Island website and he sounded very enthusiastic.

“I also want to talk about the Visibility Committee set up between the town, POA and Club,” said Ahearn. “The purpose is to brainstorm ideas on how to make Seabrook more visible to the general public and one thing we would like to implement is Kiawah Days on Seabrook.” The idea, said Ahearn, would be to make Seabrook available to property owners and rental guest on Kiawah one day a week, possibly Wednesdays, and allow them to sign up for an amenity card so they could play tennis, golf and/or visit the restaurants. “The idea is, people come to Kiawah and stay because it’s well known, but they don’t know too much about Seabrook,” said Ahearn. “The visits would have to be set up in advance, but this is an attempt to make Seabrook more visible. We’ll see how it works.”

Councilman Reed interjected, stating that he wanted to make sure that this idea was accepted by Kiawah before they went ahead with it. “I may be more sensitive to this than most, but I don’t want them to think that we’re targeting them in some way,” said Reed. “I would hate for them to take this the wrong way.” Mayor Holtz agreed, stating that they were always at peace with Kiawah and didn’t want to upset anyone.

Ahearn also reported on a meeting at the Citadel during which he heard a marketing VP give a presentation on how to make communities more visible. The speaker’s personal experience was in helping a small coastal town in the north east, which was off the beaten path, bring in more tourism. Ahearn suggested that the town speak with him about ways in which they could improve their own visibility.

Secondly, I heard a fellow speak at a couple Citadel meetings who is a marketing VP. He came from a community like we have here. His job was to make the community more visible. It was similar to us in that close to coast, but most people passed it by on 95 going north-south. Also a part of making Bermuda more visible and encourage vacationing. He was pretty impressive.

Lastly, Ahearn stated that the committee is working on putting together a brochure about the island that they would leave with concierges at some of the nicer downtown hotels, as well as working on creating a cadre of volunteers that would be willing to take guests on tours around the island.

AdHoc report

Councilman Ahearn also reported on the Ad Hoc Committee meeting, stating that the committee had recommended that the town continue to support the annual Fourth of July fireworks display with ATAX funds, and what’s left from that fund should go toward the website, and then to the Symphony if anything was left after that. Town Administrator Randy Pierce noted that the fireworks show will be held this year on July 3, with a rain date of July 5.

“I think there will be an effort to get the Symphony back up and running again,” said Holtz, “but until we’re approached about that, there are other things we could use the money on.”

Kiawah/Seabrook Island Disaster Awareness Day Funding

Council agreed to contribute $1800 toward the Kiawah-Seabrook Disaster Awareness Day, the total cost of which is around $5,000. Kiawah will pay the balance.

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