The Price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance

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County Council Sep 1

SPCA gets a new home and North Charleston gets a good deal, probably
Warwick Jones, standing in for Shawn Keller who is on military duty in Iraq

Last night's Finance Committee meeting was short with no major issues up for discussion. The SPCA looks as though it has found a new home, Council member Colleen Condon made some appointments, and the Committee took care of some deficits that were carried over from Fiscal 2005.

The new likely SPCA site has already been noted in the daily press. It is on Remount Road in North Charleston and not far from the airport. The site was suggested by North Charleston, which is looking to swap the land for the parcel of land on Melbourne Street that is owned by the County. The County offered the Melbourne Street property to the SPCA a month or so ago as the site for its new facility. The local residents were not happy about the proposal and opposition was gathering. However before it was fully manifest, North Charleston made its proposal. It also seems that it will bring the long search by the SPCA to a happy conclusion. The SPCA is happy with the site and with no residents in the industrial area, there is no local opposition. There is one minor snag and that is that North Charleston has asked the County to pay for half of the cost of demolition of the building on the Melbourne Street site. The estimated total demolition cost is $600,000.

Council member Condon asked what the respective values of the sites were, presumably conscious of the possibility that North Charleston was getting better deal. Chairman Stavrinakis stated that he did not know but that the existing SPCA site on Leeds Avenue was needed to allow construction of the new jail. The longer the prison project was delayed, the more it would cost the County. Implied was even if the valuations are skewed in favor of North Charleston, better to still move ahead considering the great difficulty in securing a suitable site and the possible further delay to the jail project. The Committee voted accordingly.

Colleen Condon makes her appointments
Committee Member Condon made her first appearance on the Committee yesterday. As a Council member, she has the right to appoint members to various Boards. Her appointments were as follow - Mr. Charles Smith to the Planning Board, Mr. Edwin Cooper to the Greenbelts Advisory Board and Ms. Susan Richards to the Transportation Advisory Board. Presumably the members appointed by Mr. Joey Douan will resign or be replaced.

Voter Registration taken to task
The final matter, as in common with most of those items we have not noted, was simply housekeeping. A couple of County Departments exceeded their budgets in Fiscal 2005 and funds needed to be appropriated to cover the deficits. The largest deficit related to the Legal Department, which was $860,000 over budget. The major item related to the cost of paying the plaintiff's attorney fees for the Voting Rights Act lawsuit. This payment was mandated by the Courts and amounted to $712,000.

The Voter Registration Department had a deficit of $193,000 and arose because of the necessity to cover the cost of unanticipated elections. Committee member Darby impishly asked what would happen if the County did not pay this fee. After all the body has done a bad job and should be held responsible for the debacles that occurred during to his election and that of Colleen Condon. Nobody rose to defend the Department though it seemed all agreed that the deficit had to be covered. Chairman Stavrinakis opined that things would be much different now that more Democrats held seats on the body.

The final deficit was $3500 for the Internal Audit department. This amount never came up for discussion.

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