Oct 06 2009

Seabrook Town Council – September 22, 2009

A public hearing was held at 2:25pm on Ordinance 2009-05 for the rezoning of two parcels in Jenkins Point Plantation. As there were no comments, the public hearing was closed.

Financials

Mayor McNulty noted before reading the financials that neither the $400,000 plus loan to the Utility Commission, nor the rebate that will be sent to residents will appear in this month’s financial statement, so the figures for this month do not reflect those amounts.

Revenues for this year-to-date are $630,128.61, compared to last year-to-date of $742,298.61, putting the Town about $112,170 behind last year, which is a difference of 15%.

Expenditures for this year-to-date are $330,184.15, compared to last year-to-date of $343,296.94. “The whole story is the excess of revenues over expenditures,” said the Mayor. This year-to-date’s excess is $299,944.46, compared to $399,001.67 last year. “We’re almost exactly $100,000 behind last year because of building and licenses,” the Mayor noted.

Public Safety

Councilman Savin reported that the Town is continuing to update the Town’s Disaster Plan and ironing out the communications between the Town’s major entities. Savin stated that they were making good progress and everything should be done in two months.

Mayor’s report

Mayor McNulty reported that the Town has signed a loan agreement with the Utility Commission for a two year CD. “The only change that the Utility requested was one that we’re glad to make,” said the Mayor, noting that the Commission wanted the loan agreement to include that they could pay the loan off in less than two years, if possible. The loan was expected to transfer by Friday, September 25.

As for the rebate on the Utility bill for Seabrook residents, the Mayor pointed out that in the end, he found that it would be too complicated to send separate rebate checks to all the residents, so the credit will appear on one, if not two, of Seabrook residents’ next water bills.

Capital projects well underway

Town Administrator Randy Pierce gave an update on the capital projects approved at last month’s meeting. All of the projects are moving along well, and Pierce reported that he met with the two companies that bid on replacing the Town’s generator. Both companies recommended that the Town go with a 47kw generator, as opposed to a 30kw which would be able to completely power the Town Hall, but that would be its limit. The next one up, a 47kw generator, would be able to power the Town Hall, as well as the exterior lighting or a possible hook up with a mobile unit. Both companies bid under the $40,000 allocated for the new generator and the Town agreed to purchase a 47kw generator for $31,000. It should be installed by the end of October. Councilman Savin later asked if there was a resell value for the old generator, to which Pierce replied that he had asked both companies, and they both said that it probably couldn’t be sold. Council briefly discussed donating it, but no official decision was made during the meeting.

As for the other projects, Pierce reported that the coding of the Town Ordinances was going well. All of the Ordinances have been scanned and uploaded. The Municipal Code Corporation, which is doing the codification, is formatting the Ordinances in such a way so that they can be searched by word instead of by the full document, as it had previously been set up. The task of replacing the color copier was done with $1,300 to spare out of the $10,000 allocation, and Pierce noted that the cost of updating the men’s bathroom at Town Hall had come in at $7,600; $2,600 above what the Town had allocated. “$7,000 for the men’s room?” The Mayor asked incredulously. The Council later jokingly discussed that they “didn’t need marble in the men’s room”, and Councilman Holtz stated that they wouldn’t be “holding any meetings in the men’s room”. In the end, the Council determined that the bathroom project will be re-evaluated in order to lower the costs. Finally, Pierce reported that he will be collecting prices this month on re-tiling and re-carpeting the Town Hall, and noted that a piece of rotting wood above the stairs is in the process of being repaired.

What happened to the grass?

Mayor McNulty noted that the lengths of dead grass along Seabrook Island Road on the approach to the front gate were intentionally killed as part of a project to correct the grade level for water drainage. It will be replaced by a type of grass which is resistant to salt water; however, the grass might not be planted until spring, in which case the area will be planted with rye for the winter.

A word on the roads

Councilman Holtz took a moment to discuss the roads issue on Johns Island. “The roads are getting commented on every day,” said Holtz, mainly referring to recent letters to the editor in local newspapers. “Some attack the gate at Kiawah, others attack safety laws. No one is looking at the issue of big landowners on the island and the eventual growth of Johns Island, which is projected to double the island’s population in 10 to 20 years. None of these letters look at tomorrow, at the future.” He pointed out that most of the comments were based on emotion, either about the land or about safety, not on facts, and that most of the people on Johns Island are actually for the Greenway. “I’m not writing any letters, but when people try to get you into a discussion [about the roads], you should know the facts.”

Town Administrator Pierce noted that he attended the most recent CHATS meeting and delivered a copy of the proclamation made by the Town last year which supports improvements to the Johns Island roads as long as the plans include the Greenway or a similar road as part of the solution. Pierce remarked that the last thing the executive director mentioned before closing the meeting was that Charleston County has passed the request for a study of traffic from one end of Johns Island to the other to CHATS. “It’s in the system,” said Pierce. “It’s just way down on the list.”

Water bill rewards

Joe Hall of the Utility Commission announced that the rebate on water bills has been calculated and the day after the Town Council meeting, the tape would be sent to the printer to write the bills. A letter from the Mayor of Seabrook Hall stated that he had been in touch with U.S. Bank, which is the trustee of the loan, and they are in the process of completing the paperwork for the bonds. Lee Vancini, the current Utility Commissioner, will be handling most of the process. Mayor McNulty remarked that Vancini feels it will be possible for the Utility Commission to get their insurance again before the end of two years.

Lastly, Hall reported that one of the members of the Utility Commission, Robert D. Stief, had given his resignation, purely for health reasons. “He was extremely influential in attaining the $1.6 million grant from FEMA,” said Hall, and the companies he hired to handle each stage of the application process did such a good job with the application, that FEMA is using some of the Town of Seabrook’s application forms to teach people how to complete the application process. “Bob has done a great job and he’s a terrific asset,” said Mayor McNulty before announcing that Jeff Bostock has been appointed to take Stief’s place. “it’s the Council’s job to replace the members of the Utility Commission, and Jeff Bostock was recommended,” said the Mayor. “He worked for 40 years in weapons technology, so I don’t think he’s over his head on this one. I can’t think of a better replacement.” Bostock’s appointment was approved unanimously.

Preparing for the elections

Gene Corrigan of the Town’s elections committee reported that everything is in good shape for the elections. There are six candidates for four Council seats, two for the Utility Commission and one for Mayor. There are 20 volunteers this year on the elections committee and they will work in four hour shift cycles on election day, which is November 3. “Not a hitch to be seen,” said Corrigan, smiling.

“I’m sure it will run smoothly,” said the Mayor. “You all do a great job.”

Ordinance 2009-06: adopt the Town budget

“This is the first reading and I know you just got this today,” the Mayor said to the Council. “If you have any questions, we can iron them out between now and the next reading.” He noted that the budget for 2010 is less than the budget for this year as the Horizon Plan won’t be included in next year’s budget. The first reading of the budget was approved unanimously.

Ordinance 2009-07: emergency powers of the Mayor

The Mayor gave the first 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.” Other changes include the additions of sections (g) and (h) to Section 1.2.52, and a line addition to Section 1.2.54. The new sections state that in the state of an emergency, the Mayor shall become vested with the following extraordinary powers: (g) to request the assistant of the military and/or police forces of federal, state, and/or other local agencies; and (h) to take such action as appears necessary to protect life and property and maintain peace and good order. The addition to Section 1.2.54 reads that “The state of emergency shall legally end when the Mayor determines that the peace and good order of the Town are no longer threatened and declares this in a proclamation which shall be posted upon the Town’s official bulletin board(s) or upon a majority vote of Town Council, whichever occurs first.” The Ordinance was approved unanimously.

Ordinance 2009-05: Rezoning of two parcels in Jenkins Point Plantation

The second reading of Ordinance 2009-05 passed unanimously. The Ordinance allows for a .25 acre portion of TMS #149-00-00-059 to be rezoned in the Single Family Residential District. This rezoning is intended to ensure that the entirely of Lot 62 shown on said plat is zoned to be in the Single Family Residential District. The Town’s official Zoning Map shall be amended accordingly.

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