The Price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance
November 20, 2015
County Council, November 19
Spring Grove Project gets final approval
Some differences over amendments
Some differences over amendmentsWarwick Jones
The only item of interest on the agenda of yesterday’s Finance Committee meeting was the 3rd reading of the Spring Grove Ordinances. The most important was the Spring Grove Development Agreement (DA) which is effectively a “contract” between the County and the developer of the project. The Committee approved all of the ordinances but it seems the passage of the DA was not without some bumps.
November 11, 2015
City Council, November 10
Optimistic fiscal outlook for 2016
Moratorium on new projects in Gathering PlacesMarc Knapp
Last night’s meeting began with a Budget Workshop and a presentation by the Mayor. In summary, the current year has shaped up well, the City’s finances are in excellent condition and 2016 should also be a good year. CFO Bedard said that 2015 would end up between “a good year and a very good year”. We noted in a previous comment the strong fiscal performance of the City. But at that time, the impact of the storms and flooding of early October had not been felt. Without the added costs of dealing with the emergency, we suspect 2015 would be a better year than “very good”. The Mayor told Council that revenues are “at or slightly above budget” and expenditures “tracking on budget”.
November 06, 2015
County Council, November 5
Spring Grove Development gets second reading
A 0.5% levy on real estate sales to fund community projectsWarwick Jones
The agenda suggested that yesterday’s Finance Committee meeting would be short. Only 4 items were up for discussion and they were dealt with relatively promptly. It was the executive sessions the consumed the time, and added well over an hour to the meeting. The sessions dealt with Medical Services to jail inmates, the Spring Grove Development, and the Chicora Life Center (Naval Hospital).
October 14, 2015
City Council, October 13
A “great budget year” up to end of August
But costs associated with recent flooding will take a tollMarc Knapp
It was a lean agenda for the City Council meeting. As is usual at this time of year, it was held on Daniel Island in the Providence Baptist Church. For many of us, it was a long way to travel for little of substance.
October 09, 2015
County Council, October 9
Spring Grove Development gets the nod
Simmering differences between County and Chicora Life Center developerWarwick Jones
The Spring Grove Development is at last coming to the final stages of approval. The proposed development has been before the County now for more than 5 years and last night the Planning/Public Works Committee gave approval for a cluster of ordinances relating to the development, the most important of which was the Development Agreement. The Committee was told by staff there were still some issues but they would be sorted out before the Agreement went for its final reading before Council.
September 25, 2015
County Council, September 24
Tentative steps to building flyover at Highway 17 and Main Road
Camp Road library branch may not closeWarwick Jones
It was fun and games during one part of yesterday’s Finance Committee meeting. But more of that later. The most important item discussed at the meeting was the flyover on Route 17 at its intersection with Main Road.
September 23, 2015
City Council, September 22
City to acquire park at Longborough
Major new zoning district establishedMarc Knapp
Real estate and zoning issues took up most of last night’s Council meeting. And the first to be discussed was the plan to acquire a park at Longborough. The ownership of the park has been disputed in recent years but the court decided the rightful owner was the Longborough Owners Association. Despite the fact that the public had access to the park, the Mayor claimed that the City should own the property to ensure future public access. Last night, Council agreed with him.
September 11, 2015
County Council, September 8
A flyover on Highway 17 at Main Road? It will cost $50 million
Problems in financing I-526Warwick Jones
The Finance Committee wrestled with the problem of flooding and traffic congestion on Main Road and Highway 17. Probably all thought that a flyover on Highway 17 was the way to go but some baulked at the estimated cost - $50 million. Where was the funding? The County would be hard pressed to provide the funds, it was the State and Federal responsibility, even if the State promised funds, should it be relied on? The Committee ultimately decided to table the issue and tasked staff to seek further information.
September 09, 2015
City Council, September 8
CARTA 2016 budget approved
Highest bond ratings for the City, again!
It was the first meeting after the summer break. In retrospect, it was a meeting we could have missed with non-business items taking up most of the time.
August 21, 2015
East Edisto project agreement close to conclusion
No discussion or light on Naval Hospital contractWarwick Jones
There were a number of items of importance on yesterday’s agendas, but in a sense, little that was newsworthy or can be reported on.
August 19, 2015
City Council. August 18
Hampton Park Plan adopted
Amendments made to original planMarc Knapp
Despite the heavy rain and local flooding, some 20 or so citizens found their way to Bishop Gadsden last night to speak at the Council meeting and plans for Hampton Park. They could have saved themselves the effort. Since the public hearing a month ago, the City made much effort to collect more community views. In consequence, it amended its original plans, and the amended ordinance passed last night with only Council member Gregorie dissenting. The Parks Conservancy will now lease land and improvements from the City that will serve, after redevelopment, a café and a community center. The surplus from operations will be used to help fund the Conservancy’s efforts to maintain city parks.
July 22, 2015
City Council, July 21
Mother Emmanuel victims honored
Late Night Activity Review Committee makes its reportMarc Knapp
It was the first meeting of Council since the Mother Emmanuel shootings. Council member Moody gave the invocation prior to the Ways and Means meeting, and Council member Riegel, that for the City Council. Both invocations drew heavily on the killings. The City Council meeting opened with a resolution to honor the members of the church who were slain. It also was to establish the “Mother Emanuel AME Church Days in the City of Charleston” beginning June 17, 2016. On each of these days next year, a live oak tree will be planted at nine locations within the City in remembrance. The City Council will appoint a committee to determine the location of the plantings
July 17, 2015
County Council, July 16
No resolution of problems at Bees Ferry landfill
Old incinerator site to be soldWarwick Jones
The meeting of the Recycling/Solid Waste (R/SW) Committee took up most of yesterday’s proceedings. Although the Finance Committee agenda had 8 items, there was little discussion and all items were passed quickly and unanimously.
June 17, 2015
City Council, June 16
Error in collection of environment impact fees on Daniel Island?
Citizens’ abuse of Citizens Participation and Public HearingsMarc Knapp
With outside temperatures near the century mark (and it is still June) it was a slow moving day. The Ways and Means session was scheduled to begin at 4.30pm but when the Mayor looked in a few minutes before, there were only two people in the chamber. Undoubtedly, the extreme weather affected attendance. Four members of Council were also absent for most of last evening’s session though as the Mayor explained, this had nothing to do with the weather.
June 12, 2015
County Council, June 11
Most elected officials to receive “market" level remuneration
But Treasurer to receive much moreWarwick Jones
The Finance Committee wrestled hard yesterday over pay increases for elected officials. No member of the Committee had issues over the need for an increase. But how large should they be, and to what extent should they be adjusted in future for Cost of Living increases (COLA) and merit pay? After the making and dismissal of a number of motions, the Committee voted to increase remuneration to the “market" level determined by the County’s Committee for Auditing, Performance and Evaluation Standards (CAPES). There would be no COLA or merit increases unless such increases were also voted by Council for staff. There would not be longevity allowances. At the insistence of Chairman Summey, the remuneration of the County Treasurer was to rise to $124,000 from the $111,022 “market” level determined by CAPES.
May 29, 2015
County Council, May 28
Sites for libraries in James Island and West Ashley chosen
Library Board rebuffedWarwick Jones.
The Finance Committee last night chose the sites for new libraries on James Island and in West Ashley. And they were not the recommendation of the Library Board. At a meeting a month ago, staff was tasked to create a list of all suitable and available sites for the libraries and for the Library Board to make a recommendation for review by the Committee. The lists had 12 potential sites for West Ashley and 9 for James Island. The recommendations were given to the Committee last night.
May 27, 2015
City Council, May 26
May 20, 2015
County Council, May 19
Millage increase proposed in General Fund budget
Strong property tax revenue not enough to offset all appropriationsWarwick Jones
Staff gave an outline of its proposed 2016 budget at the special Finance Committee meeting yesterday. Expansion of the library system and new hires under Public Safety would significantly lift expenditures. To balance the General Fund, staff recommended an increase in the millage rate from 40.7 to 44. 7. This would represent a tax increase of $160 on a residence valued at a million dollars.
May 15, 2015
County Council, May 14
Sheriff’s Department to get body cameras
Issues over funding for senior centers and non-profitsWarwick Jones
The most important item discussed and approved last night was the provision of body cameras for the Sheriff’s office. But more time was spent on discussing how to deal with requests for funding for senior centers, and non-profit organizations.
May 13, 2015
City Council, May 12
Tourist Management Plan adopted
But without the Planning Commission’s recommendationsWarwick Jones
It was a long meeting. We expected it would be because of the public hearing on the Tourist Management Plan. But a proposed change in the City’s procurement policy also generated substantial discussion and citizen comment.