Mayor Holtz called the meeting to order and approved the minutes from December 11.
The Mayor commented that that financials have not been finalized, because the Town is waiting for a check from Berkley Electric, which should come in sometime this month. Regardless, the Town “came out very well” against the budget. Year to date revenues are $27,986.08 over budget. Year to date expenditures are under budget $35,764.75. Year to date revenues over expenditures is $497.122.00. “We had a healthy year,” said the Mayor.
Councilman Sam Reed commented that the Steering Committee met on January 18. He said that the Request for Proposal for the Greenway is scheduled to appear in a builders’ construction magazine on January 24. Reed added that Roger Warren was present at the committee and said that he heard from the PGA that they would not bring any more tournaments in the area unless there were safer roads. There is also a group working to with citizens of Johns Island to come up with a “win win” situation for the roads problem that would appease both proponents and opponents of I-526 and the greenway. Specific details of the group were unknown.
Reed commented that he has been attending the St. Johns Fire District meetings. The district is waiting for approval from the Governor to appoint two additional commissioners from Kiawah, John Olson and Craig Weaver. The new headquarter building is moving forward, and the groundbreaking is planned for May with an anticipated completion date of December. The new building will be located right next to the current station, on Lee Road. Four new fire trucks are expected to arrive anytime between this month and July. The search for a new chief continues.
Reed added that there has been some “movement” on looking into wind and hail insurance premiums. Reed spoke with Peter McCoy who said that he would let the Town know of any anticipated increases. Reed has joined forces with Kiawah councilman Lauren Patch, who has an extensive background in insurance, to dig deeper into the issue.
Advertising Plans for 2013
Councilman Terry Ahearn reported on the state of advertising for the Town. A contract with Southern Living in Georgia and Tennessee was just signed to run a Seabrook ad, and the committee is considering other magazine advertisements in Boston or New York. Online advertising has gone up with Charleston Golf and Explore Charleston. The Town has also placed an advertisement that goes into a book which is placed in each hotel room across Charleston and the barrier islands. A Seabrook ad is placed in the Charleston Visitor’s Bureau pamphlet, with a prime location next to the map. Additionally, an ad is placed in Healthy Living: Atlanta. So far, the committee has spent about $71,500 on advertisement out of the allocated $100,000. The committee is considering an in-flight video ad with JetBlue, as well as sponsoring trips to Seabrook for travel writers.
Within the budget is the Obviouslee Marketing fee, which totals $37,500. Ahearn made a motion to enter into a contract with Obviouslee Marketing to pay their fee. All approved.
Ahearn reported that the Branding Committee, made up of Seabrooker’s with expertise in advertising and marketing, has been looking at was to position the island to the public in the future. They are in the process of coming up with a “tagline” for the island. The committee wants to hire Obviouslee Marketing to oversee the project and campaign. The POA, Club, and Town will all enter into separate contracts with Obviouslee Marketing and pay a fee of $2,500 each. The Council unanimously approved taking $2,500 out of the general fund to pay for the project.
Changes to the Comprehensive Emergency Plan
Councilman Ron Ciancio reported on the state of the Town’s Comprehensive Emergency Plan. The document was planned with the assistance of Scott Cave four years ago; it identifies policies and procedures to be followed in the event of a natural disaster. The Public Safety Committee reviewed the document extensively and came up with a series of suggestions and recommendations for the plan. The changes were detailed in a 13-page memo handed to Council. Changes were both small and substantive. Ciancio made a motion to allocate $4,000 from the emergency fund to implement changes in the plan. Council unanimously approved.
Ciancio stated that he met with Seabrooker editor Mike Morris concerning a series of articles that would appear in the monthly newsletter concerning disaster preparedness and awareness. The plan would be to publish four articles, with the first appearing in March, which would explain information available on the Town website. The second article will explain the composition and function of the disaster awareness council, and the third will describe precautions that should be taken in the event of an emergency. Ciancio added that in June, Kiawah Island holds a Disaster Awareness Day, open to residents of Kiawah and Seabrook. “My experience has been that the participation of Seabrook residents is limited, and we don’t take advantage of this opportunity,” Ciancio said. He encouraged Seabrook to get involved in this event, and participate with Kiawah. The fourth article will be the last in the series, and repeat the theme of preparedness and the necessary precautions for an evacuation. “Mike is very comfortable with this suggestion,” he said.
Building up the Emergency Fund
Council unanimously approved $504,000 to be moved from the general fund to the emergency fund. After $4,000 comes out to make necessary adjustments to the comprehensive emergency plan, the fund will total $1 million. “This Council has moved that emergency fund from $250,000 to $1 million in a period of a few years,” Mayor Holtz said. “Congratulations.”
Success of the Town Website
Councilman Jerry Cummin reported that 81 percent of the people visiting the Town website are first time visitors. “It’s designed so that people can get a lot of information from it. It’s working the way it is supposed to,” he said.
HAM Radio Class
Cummin also reported that he is in the process of setting up a weekend instruction class and exam for those interested in obtaining their technicians license to operate a HAM radio. So far, 22 people have expressed interest. Three different weekend dates have been reserved: February 9-10, February 23-24, and March 3-4. An instructor will go over details in a thorough powerpoint presentation and the class will end with an examination. So far, the Town has 13 licensed operators. Cummin added that in order for the instructor to come, he needs a class of at least 15. “When we get the date pinned down, we will let the island know. The more people the better. This is an important thing for us to do,” Cummin said.
Jeff Bostock commented that that the financials for the utility commission for the year were better than budget. The commission project is nearly complete, and all of the new facilities have been operated and are functioning properly. “By the end of the month, I am hoping that we no longer have the threat of a chlorine leak,” he said.
Mayor Holtz mentioned that last year, the Town supported the Seabrooker with $1,700 to continue operations. The previous year, the Town allocated $6,000. “It is very important that we support the Seabrooker,” he said. “It allows us to use it as a way of getting information out to the island.” Holtz made a motion to contribute $5,000 to the Seabrooker. Council unanimously approved.
Seabrook resident Glenda Miller asked Sam Reed to detail more information about the roads committees, questioning if they were open to everyone and when do they meet. Reed said he was unsure, but would find out.
The next Seabrook Island Town Council meeting will be February 26, at 2:30 p.m. at the Seabrook Town Hall.