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County Council April 4

Hiring of Financial Consultant raises question
An uneventful meeting
Warwick Jones

Closing remarks by Council members took almost as much time as dealing with the agenda at last night's meeting. Indeed there was little of issue on the agenda and every item passed with a unanimous vote. Items, most of which were considered at last week's Finance Committee meeting, included a grant of $2.3 million for the new SPCA facility at North Charleston, tightening of the wording relating to the County's Diversity policy, zoning cases and the hiring of a financial consultant.

Council member Pryor was not happy about the terms for hiring a financial consultant. On the face of it, he had reason for concern. The consultant is to advise the County on bond issues, and is to be paid a base fee of $45,000 a year, and $10,000 for every $100 million raised by the County. As the Council member observed, the base fee was to be paid regardless of whether any funds were raised by the County. Why not hire a consultant on an as needed basis?

Staff advised that the chosen consultant made the lowest bid. The contract was on a yearly basis with a renewal option at the end of each of the next 4 years for another year. This meant that if all the bond issues planned by the County were completed in say the next 2 years, the County would not renew the contract at the end of year 2. So there was no long-term commitment. And more importantly, the Council was likely to make a number of bond issues in the near future - arising from projects relating to Transportation, the new jail and law enforcement offices. Staff also advised that the consultant was on call for the whole year and queries went beyond new bond issues. The Council member seemed satisfied with the response.

Closing remarks
In closing remarks, Council member Condon congratulated Mr. Steve Dykes on his work. As head of Economic Development, he and his department played a leading role in coaxing Daimler Chrysler to expand in Charleston County. Following on the Vought -Boeing expansion at North Charleston, Mr. Dykes deserves the accolades he is receiving. Council member Bostic applauded the Post & Courier on a recent article on traffic congestion in West Ashley. He indicated his concern and that this problem was going to receive a lot of his attention in future. Following earlier comments by Council members and the public on the Holocaust, the persecution of Christians and terrorism, Council member Darby noted the absence in the County of any memorial to Vietnam veterans; an omission that he hoped would be rectified. Council member Pryor expressed some surprise that the County has gone ahead and contracted for security services without more consultation with Council. We confess to not understanding much of what transpired subsequently between Staff and Council members but it did seem that it was more a misunderstanding than anything else.

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