Mayor Bill Holtz was happy to announce that the year-to-date budget is above budget by $61,823.49, and expenditures are under budget by $53,522.86. Total excess of revenues over expenditures are $263,926.33, which is a positive variance from the budget of $115,346.35. Business licenses are down from last year, said Holtz, but finances, generally speaking, are just fine.
Incidents at Freshfields Village being handled
Elisa Cooper, property manager at Freshfields Village, assured Council of the safety of Freshfields Village, and pointed out that the police had suspects and were preparing to arrest them. (The day after this Council meeting, Jozeph Gosh Lemon, 18, and Lanell Goodwine, 19, were arrested for the armed robbery of a Hege’s restaurant employee on October 14). “This all occurred late at night, in the dark, when the people were by themselves,” said Cooper, who stated that they are working closely with Charleston County to increase the use of the Freshfields police substation, and are asking the police to park on the street when the substation is in use so that they are more visible.
“I can assure you that Freshfields is safe,” said Cooper. “I’m the last one to leave after concerts [in the Village Green] and I’ve never felt unsafe.” While the Freshfields staff is investigating alternatives, Cooper assured everyone that there will be off-duty officers on patrol from 8 p.m. to midnight every night, and will put pressure on the police to patrol this end of the island more frequently.
Mayor Holtz asked Cooper if they could ask the Charleston County Sheriff’s Department to come out and speak with the Council concerning the issue. “We appreciate everything you’ve said and done and we will get the sheriff involved and try to get more help out here,” said Holtz.
Cooper thanked the Council for their time and reminded residents that, if they see an incident in progress, they should point that the violation is still taking place when they call 911.
Water bill to change with November bill
Joe Hall of the Water Utility Commission announced that the new water bill rate change will go out with this November billing, along with a letter explaining the increase and further details about what it will cost. Hall stated that, while it’s hard to tell what an average bill increase might be, the range will most likely be between 80 cents and $4.50 per month between both water and sewer.
A resident at the meeting asked Hall if the Town would still be giving a refund to residents this year through the water bill, to which Mayor Holtz replied that they did not anticipate giving it out this year as the money for the return is always excess funds from the Town budget. “We’re not hurting, but we don’t anticipate a return this year,” said Holtz.
Hall also noted that he had been receiving some complaints about backflow prevention device inspections. Though he understands that it’s a bit of a pain to have to undergo this yearly inspection, it’s a necessary DHEC regulation and the Utility Commission would be fined if they didn’t adhere to code. “If a backflow prevention device isn’t functioning properly, then you’re most likely hurt yourself more than anyone else,” said Hall, pointing out that the device keeps dirt debris and possible contamination from entering your household water system.
Lastly, Councilman Rob Savin asked Hall about two detention ponds which appear to overflow after a hard rain. Hall stated that the ponds in question do not belong to the Water Utility and have been on the island since before the area was built up.
I-526 alternative and new member of the Roads committee
“I would guess that everyone knows that the county voted 6 – 1 to move a hot potato from their lap to the SCDOT with a new plan,” said Councilman Sam Reed, referring to the I-526 alternative plan proposed by County Council members Summey and Rawle, which excludes James Island from the 526 route. When the Kiawah and Seabrook Islands Roads Committees met on October 21, Reed stated that they decided to see what happens with the latest proposal and will continue to take the position that the islands need safer roads.
In the meantime, Reed welcomed Seabrook resident Dennis Piscatelli, a former employee of the Illinois Department of Transportation, to the Roads Committee. “We think he will be a good addition,” said Reed.
Website work well underway
Council member Jerry Cummin updated the Council on the progress with the new Town website. Obviouslee Marketing, the company handing the project, hopes to have the site up by the end of the year. On an interesting side note, Cummin stated that Joe Salvo of Seabrook Island Real Estate recently told him that 5% of the hits on the Club website have been coming from the Town website, which was recently improved by Property Owners Association employee, Shawna Jarrett.
“We have the initial layout done and once it is ready to put it up, we will invite interested parties and review it as a whole with Obviouslee,” said Cummin.
In other news, Cummin, who serves on the Charleston Visitors Bureau board, announced that the CVB will hold their March meeting on Seabrook Island. “ We will try to have a facility available and will have a tour available to take everyone to all of the new facilities,” said Cummin. “It will be an eye opener.”
With elections coming up on November 2, Mayor Holtz was surprised to read a referendum asking if Charleston County should look into establishing a countywide consolidation of local government functions. While the referendum has since received voter approval, Mayor Holtz at the time remarked on how nebulously the referendum was written. “I truly suspect the county and state just want to take more into their own belly and keep more of the funding that we get, which has already been going down every single year,” said Holtz.
Town Administrator Randy Pierce stated that he talked with the County Administrator about the referendum, and he referenced Jacksonville, Florida, which, instead of being composed of several small municipalities, is comprised of a single large county. It was briefly discussed that a blast be sent out asking residents to vote “no” on this referendum, but resident Sherry Pollard remarked that, while the Council should bring this to the residents’ attention, they should leave it up to them to decide which way to vote.
Thinning the herd
John Thompson of the Property Owners Association asked Council for permission for a licensed marksman to use a firearm on the island to cull the deer herd. This process is done every year between November 15 and December 1, and the marksman (Jim Jordan, Kiawah Island Chief Biologist) typically removes around 100 deer of the roughly 600 located on the island. The deer meat is then donated to local food banks. Council approved the motion unanimously.
Southwest Airline announces first four city destinations
Katie Chapman of the CVB announced that the biggest news of the past month was Southwest Airline’s announcement on the first four cities to which they will begin flying from Charleston on March 13, 2011. The cities include Houston, Washington, D.C., Chicago and Nashville.
Chapman also noted that writer Charles Larson of Virginia Sportsman Magazine will be staying on the island from November 8 – 15, and that the CVB is working with Kiplinger Finance Magazine to include Charleston in a list of best places for empty nesters to settle.
Shred it and forget it
Town Administrator Randy Pierce reported that a paper shredding truck will be at Town Hall from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, November 24, and it will be available to the general public.
Mayor Holtz motioned for first reading on the 2011 budget, which he noted as being fairly conservative. The Council will have the opportunity to review it before second reading and propose any changes before second reading during the next Council meeting in December. Copies of the budget are available at Town Hall. The motion was approved unanimously.
The Seabrook Town Council meets on the fourth Tuesday of every month at 2:30 p.m. The next Town Council meeting will be held on Tuesday, November 16, at Seabrook Town Hall, located at 2001 Seabrook Island Road. For more info, visit www.townofseabrookisland.org or call 768-9121.