The Price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance
County Council June 8
Outside Agencies allocation to wait for policy determination
Issue over interim Administrator? Accommodation tax fund allocationsWarwick Jones
We thought the Outside Agencies issue had been killed at last. However, it came back to life at the end of the special Council meeting last night and after an executive session. There were clear signs that ultimately it would be killed off and buried. But not before Council had formulated a clearer policy on distributions, which it agreed to do last night.
At last night's special meeting of the Finance Committee, members initially resumed the same posture evident at the close of the Council meeting on Tuesday. Council members Bostic, Condon, Fava and McKeown wanted to defer a decision on specific allocations until a more comprehensive policy had been shaped by Council. This was opposed by Council members Darby, Pryor, Inabinett and Chairman Stavrinakis. They were not opposed to Council shaping a firmer policy, but they felt that distributions for fiscal 2007 should be determined immediately and that any new policy should be applied in 2008 and beyond. Council member Scott was not at the Council meeting on Tuesday but in previous meetings had supported a deferral of distributions and the firming of a policy.
Eight allocation criteria proposed
Council member Condon presented a proposal to the Finance Committee that included eight criteria that should be met before granting funds to an outside agency. In our view, the criteria were simple and reasonable, and this view was shared by all of the Council members it seemed. Amongst other things, the criteria stipulated that funding must provide free or discounted services to Charleston County residents, must promote health, educational welfare for residents, prohibit proselytizing during funded activities, and prohibit funding for religious organizations, except for support of community services.
Council member Condon's proposal also included a number of other suggestions as to criteria that should be applied to applications. These included such matters of budgets, measuring performance, auditing, and obtaining matching funds. Some of the Council members vigorously opposed the application of these criteria, largely on the basis that some of the small nonprofits were not in a position to comply, or had the resources to do so.
Committee votes on issue, but Council agrees a different motion
Ultimately, it was proposed that the 8 criteria be applied to the allocations planned for fiscal 2007, that it be done very quickly so that Council could move promptly to make the allocations. This was approved by the Finance Committee. We expected that it would be "rubber stamped" at the Council meeting that followed. It wasn't for Council decided at that meeting and without any discussion, to defer distributions for fiscal 2007 until a full policy has been determined.
What changed the minds of some Council members, we don't know. But we presume it occurred in the executive session that followed the Finance Committee meeting and was related to some other items on last night's agenda.
Ire over disclosure relating to appointment of interim AdministratorThe appointment of an interim County administrator was on last night's agenda Yesterday's edition of the Post & Courier indicated that the choice had been narrowed to two candidates, Mr. Mack Canterbury, who had retired from the County administration some years ago, and Mr. Keith Bustraan, the deputy Chief Administrator. Mr. Roland Wyndham, the present administrator, plans to retire at the end of this month. Some Council members were roiled at the story in the newspaper, but more so to the fact that the newspaper had apparently received a copy of the agreement between the County and Mr. Canterbury on his retirement. Council members Darby and Scott questioned the source of the information. The agreement between the County and Mr. Canterbury was confidential and could only have been leaked to the newspaper by either Council members or staff. Council member Fava confessed to talking to the P& C and giving the names of the two contenders, but only to that.
The leakage to the newspaper, coupled with ire of some Council members indicates that factions exist on Council as to who should be appointed as the interim Administrator. We expect the issue to be taken up at the next meeting of Council
Allocation from accommodation tax approvedDistributions of the funds derived from the accommodation tax were also approved last night. Distributions were left at the 2006 level with some additions. Piccolo Spoleto was raised to $20,000 from $10,000 and $5000 was given to each of Patriots Point Development Authority, Actors Theater of SC, and the SC Music Hall of Fame Initiative. The Charleston Jazz Initiative was allocated $7175. Total funding for fiscal 2007 was $392,175. In 2006, it was $360,000.
There was not much discussion about the allocations. Council members Mc Keown opined that funds should be returned to those organizations that contributed to the tax, essentially those that help draw tourists to Charleston. His opinion drew no opposition. Council Member Darby took issue with the $85,000 request by the Gibbes Museum but this was made moot when Council agreed to retain 2006 specific funding levels.
How many contribute to the tourist industry, the main generator of the tax?
We have issues with some of the organizations on the list. Viewers can form their own opinion and can view the list below. We have no issue with the four entities described by Council as "high priority" but we do with many of the others. Although the entities on the list serve the community, we think that some make very little or no contribution to drawing tourists to Charleston.
Where are the museum and preservation groups?
We also note that past surveys have indicated that the biggest draw to Charleston is its history and in particular, its historic homes and buildings. It is not the Aquarium or Americian Red Cross for example. With the exception of the Gibbes, there is not one history museum or preservation group on the County list. It would seem to this writer that there ought to be. It also seems that allocations have been much shaped by compromise amongst Council members - you support my proposals, I'll support yours.
Outside Agencies - Accommodation tax
Priority Agency FY 2006 (Actual) FY 2007 (Approved)
High Moja Arts Festival $20,000 $20,000
High Piccolo Spoleto $10,000 $20,000
High SE Wildlife Expo $30,000 $30,000
High Spoleto Festival $40,000 $40,000
Medium American Red Cross $20,000 $20,000
Medium Metro Sports Council $25,000 $25,000
Medium Children's Museum $15,000 $15,000
Medium Gibbes Museum of Art $45,000 $45,000
Medium Happy New Year! Charleston $15,000 $15,000
Medium Patriots Point Dev Athy $5,000
Medium SC Aquarium $40,000 $40,000
Low Actor's Theatre of SC $0 $5,000
Low Art Forms and Theatre $15,000 $15,000
Low Charleston Stage Company $10,000 $10,000
Low Charleston Symphony $15,000 $15,000
Low Denmark Vesey Mmt $10,000 $10,000
Low Footlight Players $10,000 $10,000
Low Hair, Beauty & Health Expo $20,000 $20,000
Low Island Heritage Festival $20,000 $20,000
Low SC Music Hall of Fame $0 $5,000
Low SC Jazz Initiative $0 $7,175
Totals $360,000 $392,175