Mayor Holtz called the meeting to order and began with the Town finances, stating that the Town had an exceptional month. Year-to-date revenues are $824,464.29 versus a budgeted $695,640.90. Year-to-date revenues over expenditures are $354,459.56. “The budget is healthy,” he said.
Councilman Reed commented on the status of I-526. Mayor Riley requested that the City become a new sponsor for the completion of I-526. Tuesday evening, City Council voted 11-2 to request control from the County for the completion of the road. “It’s looking more and more to me that I-526 will be completed in the not too distant future,” Reed said. Council discussed on whether or not the Town of Seabrook should indicate their support for 526 by virtue of a letter. In the past, the Town has indicated support for the road by resolution. “We have the opportunity to encourage County Council to surrender the project to the City Council,” Reed said. Mayor Holtz and Council agreed to let Reed put together a letter to the County showing support for Mayor Riley and his actions to take control of the project and have I-526 completed.
Citizens Group Formed to Address Expansion on Johns Island
Reed stated that a citizens group is being developed to address development issues on Johns Island, including roads. “This group would deal with restricting plan development, enhancing the practice of agriculture, preserving the history and culture of Johns Island, and preserving rural atmosphere,” Reed said. “It is my opinion that Johns Island is going to grow whether we like it or not.
St. Johns Fire Commission
Previously at the St. Johns Fire Commission meeting several months ago, there was an attempt to have two additional Kiawah representatives appointed to the commission. The motion failed to carry. The issue was brought back up at the last meeting. Don Rivers of Wadmalaw made a motion to bring the issue back up, changing his vote to support additional Kiawah commissioners. This made the vote four to three, to have County Council recommend two new Fire Commissioners for Kiawah. “If this happens, it will eliminate the possibility that Kiawah might pull out of the St. Johns Fire District and form their own district,” Reed said. Reed added that the issue is being dealt with, and if two new commissioners from Kiawah join, Seabrook will still have its voice.
Councilman Ahearn informed Council that the Visibility Committee met and discussed areas of interest to the committee and allocate them to the Town, the POA, and the Club for funding various initiatives. The Town will deal primarily with advertising. “We talked about the preliminary budget of $100,000 going into PR,” Ahearn said. The money will come from the general fund and the accommodation tax. The committee identified possible areas of advertisment, such as repeating the Southern Living ad, as well as being featured on Live with Kelly & Michael. The committee also discussed sponsoring specialized writers to come in and write articles on various aspects of Seabrook life.
Councilman Cummin questioned whether or not the POA and the Club would be as financially responsible for supporting visibility efforts with the Town. Holtz commented that even though the POA and the Club have stronger budgets, they do not have the accommodation tax. “It’s a logical question,” Holtz said, “But I am confident that we can keep things in control if we know where the money is going.”
Ahearn reported that the Branding Committee would talk with the Town on December 12 at 1:30 p.m. regarding recommendations for branding the Town. “Branding goes a lot further than just a logo,” Ahearn said. Eric Strobel and Jerry Brown head the group. More details will develop after the presentation.
Sense of Place Committee
Ahearn reported that he attended the Sense of Place Committee meeting to determine items that would affect the Town substantially. “Most of the stuff they suggested are way off in the future for the Town,” Ahearn said. The committee mentioned a wellness center, as well as a village with stores and restaurants. “Right now it isn’t for us,” Ahearn added. Any such project would need to be completed by a developer. Mayor Holtz added, “We aren’t being negative, we are just being realistic about where we stand today.”
Importance of HAM Radios
Councilman Cummin passed around a satellite picture of Hurricane Sandy as she approached landfall on October 29. HAM radios were used from the Carolina’s all the way up to Maine with requests for assistance in the disaster. Cummin reported that on November 1, two hospitals in New Jersey requested assistance from HAM radios. In Atlantic County, HAM radios were so important that the call went out for relief operators. Cummin provided several more examples of real-life incidents where HAM radios were used during Sandy. Seabrook currently has 13 licensed HAM radio operators. If enough interested is generated, an instructor will come to Seabrook and teach a weekend class on how to operate a HAM radio, that will end with an examination. So far, seven residents have signed up. “It would be an excellent effort on our part,” Cummin said.
25th Anniversary Celebration Wrap-Up
Councilman Ciancio reported that all of the bills are in, or at least good estimates, for the anniversary celebration. “I am pleased to report that the total expenditures can in about seven percent, or $3,100, under budget,” Ciancio said. The Town will host a celebratory dinner for the anniversary committee members. “This is our way of saying thank-you for that effort,” he said.
The Public Safety Committee met on Thursday, November 15, to review changes to the comprehensive emergency plan that has been under construction for the last five months. Scott Cave attended the meeting to help review. “We should be in a position to come to Council by January,” Ciancio said.
Disaster Recovery Council
Ciancio reported that the Disaster Recovery Council would be meeting the first weekend of December. “I think it’s important that we have this Council get in a habit of meeting on a regular basis,” Ciancio added. “Up until now, we have met annually. I think it’s a good discipline to meet more frequently.” Ciancio commented that agenda items for the meeting would include a review of lessons learned from Sandy, followed by operational communication issues.
Utility Commission Update
The Utility Commissions reported that the loan of $440,000 will be back by November 15. October financials were satisfactory and the Utility Commission is on budget.
Town Code Regarding Debris Removal
Council discussed a second reading of Ordinance 2012-2 regarding debris removal after a disaster. Councilman Ciancio went over changes to the ordinance that were made to clear up any confusion regarding responsibility for cleanup. Since the first reading changes made to make sure that the ordinance read as one designed to address debris removal on roads, not private property. The ordinance was unanimously approved.
Exceptions to Setbacks Regarding HVAC Equipment
The Town approved Ordinance 2012-3 regarding the ability to encroach as much as five feet into a setback in order to move HVAC units and meet flood prevention standards. No changes were made from the first reading.
Adopting the Budget
Mayor Holtz reported that no major changes occurred to the budget between the first reading and the second. All Councilmembers had the opportunity to discuss the budget with the Town Administrator. The budget was passed unanimously.
Mayor Holtz informed Council that this ordinance is mandated by the state in order to change the way the state collects business licenses. “This is a bureaucratic change from the state level. We have copied it word for word.” Council passed the ordnance unanimously.
Thinning the Deer
Council passed a standard resolution allowing the POA to thin the deer herd. This is a standard resolution that Council passes every year. Shooting doesn’t begin until December 1, and can only take place from 5 p.m. – 5 a.m. The resolution was passed unanimously.
Motion to Approve $100,000 for Advertising
Councilman Aheard made a motion to approve the spending of up to $100,000 from the Town revenues for PR and advertising to be taken out of the general fund as appropriate. Mayor Holtz added, “I would like the Town to understand where that money is going. I don’t want Council to be surprised when it happens.” The motion carried.
Motion to move $15,000 from the Accommodation Tax for Website
Council passed a motion for $15,000 to be taken out of the accommodation tax and used for the Town website, over the course of the 2013 year.
The Planning Commission reported that a representative approached the commission wanting to be placed on the agenda to discuss planning a half marathon on Seabrook next year. Though the man never showed, the Planning Commission questioned the role of the Town if the issue were to come up again. Earlier this year, the Town handled the Marina run. Council was asked whether or not the Planning Commission would be involved in such an event. Town Administrator Pierce said that if someone applies for a permit, they would be refered to the Planning Commission and then a recommendation would be made back to Town Council, unless the event is over 72 hours. If it is less, the Planning Commission has the authority to review the event and have the Town Administrator sign off on approval.