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County Council Meeting January 12

Folly/Camp Road added to CTC Project Priority List
Disparity study, SPCA, and Saving Morris Island
Warwick Jones

The agenda for the first meeting of Council this year had no seriously divisive issues. Meeting firstly as the Planning/Public Works committee, Council added Folly/Camp Road to the Project Prioritization List of the Charleston County Transportation Committee (CTC). The list remains essentially the same as that at the time of the Sales tax referendum in November 2004 with the one addition. The addition amounts to $6 million and lifts the total of all projects to over $700 million. Download file
to see list.

The list will now go to the Transportation Advisory Board for perusal. How quickly all these projects will be completed is conjectural as most have not been started. The Mark Clark extension is the most important on the list. Most projects depend of the availability of sales tax funding, though the State Infrastructure Bank is presently considering funding for the Mark Clark extension.

Consultant chosen for disparity study
If there were any spirited discussion in the Council meeting (now in Finance Committee), it was over the retention of a consultant to undertake the Disparity Study planned by the County. The Council had instructed a panel of staff to define a short list of firms and to seek proposals. This it did. It chose MGT of America which it described as the "most responsive and responsible and that best meets the County's needs". It also was the cheapest.

Council members Darby and Pryor probably would have preferred to retain Miller Consulting. It was a minority owned firm and it made sense for such a firm to undertake the study, they said. Council member Pryor noted that there didn't seem much difference in the qualifications of the two bidders and that price was the major determinant. Was there any way that a lower price could be negotiated? Council member Darby also asked for more information on the two companies to assist in better defining their qualities.

Staff told the Finance Committee that MGT had an excellent track record, was long established, and financially sound. Miller Consulting was a new firm, much smaller and most of its members had split off from a larger firm. The references to these people although favorable, related to the work in their previous position.

Council member Scott, acknowledging the good intentions of the two Council members felt that it would be wrong to attempt to second guess staff in such a matter. They have been given a task and there was no reason to doubt their judgment. The Finance Committee followed his lead and voted the retain MGT. Funding is not to exceed $246,000, and $25,000 is to be set aside for contingencies.

Don't let your pet get loose!
Mr. Charles Karesh of the SPCA also addressed Council and asked it to consider an ordinance to allow the SPCA to neuter any stray animal. Such drastic action was necessary to cut down on the 11,000 to 13,000 stray animals that pass through the SPCA's doors each year, and mostly on to oblivion. An ordinance that allows this already exists in the City of Charleston and in other communities in South Carolina. Most likely, if the County adopted such an ordinance, other municipalities would follow.

Those animals that escape the knife would have to be bona fide "show", guide dogs, or in poor physical condition that would make surgery dangerous.

Support sought for preservation of Morris Island
Mr. Blake Hallman of the Morris Island Coalition also addressed Council. He sought support from the County to buy Morris Island. The Island has a considerable history and needs to be preserved and not developed. The present owners have optioned the land to the Ginn Company but according to Mr. Hallman, the Ginn Company is prepared to let the option expire. The present owner has also expressed a willingness to sell the property.

The Morris Island Coalition hopes to secure funds from Federal, State and local sources. The County's endorsement of the Coalition's plans will held in their fruition. It was duly given.

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