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County Council, June 26

Budget for 2010 approved. Sheriff strongly critical
Staff to come up with waste disposal strategies
Warwick Jones

Council finally put the 2010 budget to bed, but not without a last minute change. Council member Summey moved that the $300,000 provided for a management study be scrapped and the funds applied to a number of other items. They included $125,000 to the Sheriff's Office to go toward the cost of the opening of the new jail, and $100,000 for the Solicitor’s Office.

Council member Condon sought to have the vote split though Council member Summey did not agree to amend his motion. Council subsequently voted and adopted the motion with only Council member Condon voting “nay”. Council member Rawl was absent last night. We believe that Council member Condon was opposed to providing more funds to the Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff castigates Council
Despite the extra funds voted to his department, Sheriff Cannon castigated Council in the citizens’ participation time at the end of the meeting. He said that he had not been fully consulted by staff on the proposed spending on the opening of the new jail. And even with the passing of the Budget 3rd reading, he was still unsure as to what his department was to receive for funding for the opening. It was a sad affair that he had to rise in Citizens Participation to voice a comment on the budget. At budget sessions last month, the Sheriff said that he needed about $2 million to fund the staff training and opening expenses of the new jail. He noted that the jail would cost $100 million and it seemed wrong to delay the opening for such a relatively small sum.

We thought that the Sheriffs comment’s had some merit. Couldn’t staff communicate better with the Sheriff’s Office? One staff member noted that this budget session had been very tight and the demands on staff very heavy as Council searched for ways to balance the budget. Nobody was slighting the Sheriff- it was just that time ran out.

We understand from talking to staff that the Sheriffs Office now will get about $1.2 million of the $2 million sought, or we should say, reinstated. The jail is scheduled to open in about 12 month’s time. This will not change but there may be modest delays in “commissioning”.

Budget spending for 2010 is projected at $167.5 million, down from the $171 million of the previous year. There will be no millage increase though because of likely lower receipts from the Local Option Sales Tax, property tax bills are likely to be higher.

Closure of incinerator seems certain
Council also reaffirmed its decision to cease negotiation with the operator of the incinerator in North Charleston. Council was unanimous in its decision though Council member Rawl was absent from the meeting. There was little discussion over the decision and it seems that there is more hope than substance in regards to future waste disposal.

A representative of Montenay, the operator, spoke in citizen’s participation and thanked Council for its cooperation over the years. Montenay was still prepared to work with Council and perhaps participate in any project. He also warned Council to be wary of new technology, implying that it may not live up to its promise.

And although Council has said little, it is clearly hoping that new technology will solve or at least relieve its waste disposal problems. A higher recycling level is expected to help, and Council is shooting for a 40% target. Some Council members think that the target could be set higher.

Staff has been give 90 days to come up with strategies for the County’s waste disposal. All that seems certain though is that the incinerator will close at the end of this year and that the Bees Ferry dump will take most of the County’s trash, hopefully in diminishing amounts as recycling levels grow.

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