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Charleston County Greenbelt Bank- First meeting

Introductions and procedures

Warwick Jones

Directors of the Charleston County Greenbelt Bank (CCGB) today met for the first time. County Council appointed the directors at its last meeting. (See County Council October 12) County Council Chairman Stavrinakis welcomed the Board and commented on the high caliber of its members. He noted the importance of its task, the strong support of the County and citizens.

Most of today's meeting was devoted to a presentation by Ms. Cathy Ruff of County staff who outlined the duties of the bank, and to procedural matters. The board members agreed to meet once a month on the first Thursday of the month at 9 am. Mr. Ed Cooper was elected Interim Chairman and the board, at its next meeting would appoint the both the Chairman and Vice Chairman. It would also decide on the number of members that represents a quorum and the minimum number of votes necessary to approve a resolution.

In broad terms, the role of the bank is two fold. When County Council agreed to create the bank, its role was seen mainly as a non-profit organization to gather and disperse funds for greenbelt creation in the County. It would have access to half-cent sales tax monies and would seek to obtain other funds from other conservation groups, or join them to finance greenbelt creation. Its role was expanded by Council after the Greenbelt Advisory Board recommended that the Bank be used for the administration of all of the sales tax related funds raised by the County - barring that for the Parks and Recreation Department - for greenbelt creation but within the framework of the Comprehensive Greenbelt Plan. The Plan sets out criteria choosing projects and set a 30/70 ratio for the allocation of urban and rural grants respectively.

We won't go into details of the Bank's commitment. Suffice to say that it, with the help of staff it will be responsible for managing the application process relating to "rural grants". It will also be responsible for choosing the projects and managing the funding. Its obligation does not go so far in relation to "urban" greenbelts. Each municipality will receive allocations based on its population and the municipalities will choose the projects.

The next meeting of the CCGB will be November 30 when it will hear a presentation from Mr. Chuck Flink, the Greenbelt consultant to the County. It is possible that the head of the State Conservation Bank will also give a presentation but this still has to be determined. Assuming the Bond referendum passes at on Tuesday November 7, the County plans to raise $95 million for Greenbelt financing in Q1, 2007. The interest on the bonds and their amortization will be made from sales tax funds. The CCGB will most likely begin taking applications for greenbelt financing at that time.

We intend to cover all CCGB meetings

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