A public hearing was held for ordinance 2009-06: to adopt the 2010 budget for Seabrook Island, and ordinance 2009-07: emergency powers of the Mayor, at 2:25pm before the Town Council meeting. As there were no comments, the hearing was closed.
Minutes of last meeting
There was only one correction to last month’s meeting minutes, which Councilman John DuBois pointed out to Town Clerk Faye Allbritton. “Funny,” he said, “The minutes say I was here, but I don’t remember any of this meeting.” Faye laughed and noted that she must have forgotten to scratch his name from the roll. “You’re always here in spirit,” said Mayor McNulty. “We can’t do it without you.”
For the first nine months of the year, Mayor McNulty reported that revenues were $660,927.40. Last year, the first nine month’s revenue totaled $826,319.49, a difference of 20%. “It’s almost entirely due to lower business license revenue and interest income,” the Mayor explained. As for expenses, the first nine month’s total came to $388,677.18, as compared to last year’s total of $386,222.68. Excess of revenue over expenditures for the nine months is $272,250.22, compared to $440,096.81 last year; showing a decline of 48%. “Again, it’s mainly due to our decline in revenue,” said McNulty. He also pointed out that the balance of the general fund at end of the first nine months does not reflect the $400,000 distributed back to island residents in their water bills, or the $440,000 being loaned to the Utility Commission. These expenses will appear in the October report.
Scott Cave, a Certified Business Continuity Planner at Atlantic Business Continuity Services, presented the official Business Continuity Plan to the Town Council and Joe Hall of the Utility Commission. “I’m pleased to provide you with final copy of the Town’s Comprehensive Emergency Plan,” he said. “It required 26 meetings and we spent 55 hours together, but I’m pleased with the result. It was a lot of effort, but well worth it.” Cave explained that the “ownership” of the plan, as well as the training involved, would be the responsibility of the Town’s Public Safety Committee. The plan includes an emergency section with emergency operations and the roles and responsibilities of Council members; a section for Town Ordinances that apply to emergency situations; a master framework for addressing a variety of emergency situations; a separate section for hurricanes, as they required the addition of an evacuation plan; and plan summaries for earthquakes, terrorism, tsunamis, pandemics, as well as a crisis communication plan. “I can’t stress enough the need for training and maintenance [of the plan],” said Cave. “ We need to make sure the knowledge in this plan will be known and put into action in the event of an emergency.” Finally, Cave gave rough estimate for costs to the Town in the event of a category 2 or category 5 hurricane. “ The estimated cost of a category 2 hurricane, assuming no assistance from FEMA or outside assistance, would be $200,000 for the Town to respond to and recover from it,” said Cave. “A category 5, with help from FEMA (FEMA pays 75% of costs, leaving the Town to pay the remaining 25%), would be more than $1.5 million for a catastrophic hurricane. Category 5s are rare, but they happen. A category 2 is more realistic, but we have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.”
Mayor McNulty questioned the cost of $3.8 million to remove debris from Seabrook Island Road in the event of a category 5 hurricane, and Cave replied that debris removal after a hurricane is not cheap. “Companies that respond to disasters charge a premium to do so,” he said.
The Mayor noted that there is still an open ended list of items that need to be completed for the plan. “It’s a little overwhelming to see it in one place, but you did a great job,” he told Cave. Councilman Holtz agreed, noting that it’s “An excellent plan.”
Seabrook Island Utility Commission Loan agreement
Last month, the Seabrook Town Council approved a loan agreement which provided that the Utility Commission would take the $440,000 loan and use it to purchase a certificate of deposit with FDIC backing as collateral. However, with recent market events causing the availability of such insurance to either be non-existent or prohibitively expensive, it was suggested that the loan agreement be changed so that the Utility Commission can purchase any financial instrument that is in compliance with SC Code Ann. § 6-5-10 et. seq. to meet the specified bond covenants. “It’s still a 2 year CD, that hasn’t changed,” the Mayor clarified. The motion was approved unanimously.
Updating the Code Red weather warning system
Town Administrator Randy Peirce reminded the Council that the Code Red weather warning system, which automatically calls Seabrook Island residents in case of a weather warning, is undergoing an annual update to insure that all of the land lines on Seabrook Island are in the system. Residents are encouraged to go online to the Seabrook Island website (www.townofseabrookisland.org), click on the Code Red button, and update the site with their cell phone number, as well. Pierce also noted that the weather warning system does not include a tsunami warning. Scott Cave noted that Reach SC is a similar application that will warn people about tsunamis, if they’re interested.
Ordinance 2009-08, first reading, Membership of Town Council Standing Committees
“This is one of the things that came out of Scott’s study,” said the Mayor, in reference to the Town’s new emergency plan. “Currently, the Town of Seabrook Island’s Public Safety Committee consists of one member of Council. What this does it add the phrase “plus two additional at-large members to be determined by the Public Safety official and approved by Town Council.” The motion was approved unanimously.
Ordinance 2009-09, first reading, Debris removal
“In all fairness, we only got this a few days ago,” Mayor McNulty pointed out. “This is one of the things we discussed at length during the emergency planning meetings.” McNulty suggested that the Council approve the first reading, look it over during the month and make any necessary changes between the first and second reading. The ordinance basically states that that the Mayor may order the removal of debris on public or private land if such action is required to eliminate or lessen immediate threats to lives, public health, and safety; or as it is needed in order to eliminate or lessen immediate threats of significant damage to improved public or private property through cost effective measures; or to ensure the economic recovery of the Town to the benefit of the Town-at-large. First reading was approved unanimously.
Ordinance 2009-06, second reading: 2010 Budget
Mayor McNulty noted that the budget estimate for 2009 has changed since last month in terms of the “wages and benefits” section. “What we’ve done,” said McNulty, “we’ve moved code enforcement, which was a part time job (20 hours a week or less), to full time for the last quarter of this year. So instead of two guys working part time, we have it listed as one full time job, so the ‘wages and benefits’ section is a little higher as the 2010 budget assumes a full time code enforcement officer.” He noted that this was the only change to the budget. Council approved the second reading unanimously.
Ordinance 2009-07, second reading: Emergency powers of the mayor
The Mayor gave the second reading for an amendment to Section 1.2.51 of the Town Code, which amends the emergency powers of the Mayor to include the line “The Mayor or in his absence, the person designated by the Town of Seabrook Island Ordinance 2009-03 (hereinafter ‘the Mayor’), may declare a state of emergency to exist within the corporate limits of the Town.” The ordinance was approved unanimously.
Proclamation 2009-05: November as National American Heritage Month
Mayor McNulty read a brief proclamation, which would declare November to be National American Heritage Month on Seabrook Island. The proclamation recognizes that Native American Awareness Week began in 1976 and recognition was expanded by Congress and approved by President George Bush in August 1990, designating the month of November as National American Heritage Month. The proclamation was approved unanimously.
News from the Visitor’s Bureau
Katie Chapman, Director of Media for the Charleston Visitor’s Bureau, announced that Travel and Leisure magazine recently named Charleston at a top ranking city in 15 categories, including Attractive People, Friendly People, Antique + Vintage Shops, Historical Sites/Monuments, Farmer’s Markets, Romantic Escape, and Stylish Boutique Hotels, among others. Conde Nast magazine has also named Charleston as the number 2 city in the United States behind San Francisco, making Charleston the number 1 destination on east coast. In terms of print coverage for Charleston, articles about Charleston have reached a circulation of 81 million for the months of July – September. Finally, Be A Tourist in your Own Town tickets are now available online or by calling 853-8000. This year’s pass offers local residents free one-time admission to 33 area attractions and discounts at 24 restaurants during the month of January 2010. Passes will be on sale through December 31.
A final farewell
As this was the last official Town Council meeting for Mayor Frank McNulty and Councilman John DuBois, several Councilmen took the opportunity to thank them for their hard work on Council. “I would like to say, as a junior member of the Council, how much I appreciate the guidance that you and Dubois have given us,” said Councilman Jerry Cummin. “We’re grateful to both of you and we’ll miss you very much.” “Thanks for the memories,” smiled Councilman DuBois.