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County Council September 15

Emergency preparedness presentation deferred
Approval of Compensation Study Consultant. More on road construction
Warwick Jones, standing in for Shawn Keller who is on military duty in Iraq

The potential highlight of last night's Finance Committee meeting was an insight into the County's emergency preparedness. This was the last item on the agenda and no doubt had been inserted to ensure Council members and the public that the County was prepared for future emergencies - primarily hurricanes. And there is no prize for guessing what precipitated the need for this assurance. Unfortunately the insight was not to be. Because of the absence of some Council members and the pressing appointments of others, the presentation was deferred.

This writer was unaware of the last minute deferral and went to the 3rd floor of the Country Building in North Charleston where the Emergency Center is located and where the presentation was planned. In ignorant innocence, he walked the Center looking for the presentation area and subsequently learned of the deferral. But in this short time, he was impressed with what he saw. It may not have been equal to NASA Control but it certainly had that feel. The County has clearly made a serious effort to plan for an emergency. Council Chairman Stavrinakis, at the Finance Committee meeting, stated that the County was very prepared for a hurricane and noted the large number of citizens that had been trained, or were being trained to help in a potential evacuation. He also stated that it was not possible for government to do everything in an emergency but the County was geared up to do as much as it could. We hope the public has the opportunity to see the Center. As well as providing assurance to citizens, it would be a good public relations exercise.

Compensation Study moves forward
As for the rest of the yesterday's meeting, the agenda comprised housekeeping items largely. The Committee approved the retention of a consultant to undertake a study of wages and salaries of County employees. The firm of Fox Lawson and Associates was chosen from 7 aspirants and is to receive a fee of $103,575. The study is to be completed by the end of the year. The last study of this nature was made some years ago and it is generally felt that large upward adjustments in salaries for some employees will be necessary to bring them into line with the market. Assuming Council implements the recommendations, County payroll expenses are likely to rise but by how much at this stage is speculation.
More firms sought to bid for "disparity' study
There was also some discussion about retaining a consultant to "perform a comprehensive disparity study utilizing methods of source selection that embrace fair and open competition as required in the Procurement Ordinance. This discussion was prompted by a submission from CET-3, a local firm, seeking the position. Staff stated that the Ordinance prohibited Council from accepting a sole source bid and that other firms had contacted the County seeking the position. Accordingly, the County will seek other submissions.
Road and resurfacing projects
And then there were the road building and resurfacing projects. Some have already been approved and the Planning and Public Works Committee authorized the formal approach to the SC DOT to allow the County to manage the improvements. Press Press here to see these projects.

Late last month, the Charleston County Transportation Committee (CCTC) approved a list of improvement projects that it asked Council to consider for funding by the half-cent sales tax. The total estimate for funding is $2 million. Council agreed to the Staff recommendation that input should be received from the public and local governments before making any recommendations. Press Press here to see the list of proposed projects.

And then there was the request for the addition of 34 roads to the County's Road Improvement Program. The County noted that a moratorium on the addition of new roads to the Program has been in place since the end of 2001. The moratorium reflected the absence of funding. However, with the passage of the sales tax referendum, the County now has a funding source. Of the 34 roads to be added, 24 represent new applications. Public right of way and drainage easements need to be acquired prior to construction. The other 9 roads are on James Island and were removed from the program in 2004 when James Island was incorporated. Staff noted that if there were right of way problems, Council would be informed to allow reconsideration of their inclusion.

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