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County Council, May 3

Finance Committee meets before Council meeting
CVB seeking additional funding
Warwick Jones

We were gently chided yesterday by a viewer for not reporting on the Finance Committee meeting last Thursday. The omission is easily explicable – there was no meeting. The agenda for the meeting was light. We also understand there were some important meetings scheduled on Thursday in Columbia, we presume relating to I-526. In consequence of these things, the Finance Committee meeting was held yesterday, immediately before the Council meeting.

Expectedly, last night’s agenda was light. We were ready to leave after the Finance Committee meeting but the Committee met for an executive session to discuss I-526. We thought something of interest would be reported in the aftermath of the meeting which took about an hour. Our wait was not rewarded. There was nothing.

Only two things were on the agenda of interest. The first related to a request from the Convention and Visitors Bureau for additional funding of $250,000 from the Accommodation Tax. It needed help to fill the hole created by providing $800,000 to Southwest Airlines for advertising. According to the package information, Southwest requested $1.6 million from Charleston and Greenville ($800,000 each) and matched the amount with its own funds of $1.6 million to promote the airline’s new service to South Carolina.

Staff, in its written comments, was clearly concerned about the request and about the future trend in Accommodation Tax receipts. It advised caution but opined that the funds were there for an allocation of $250,000 in 2011 or 2012.

There was no discussion on the request. Chairman Pryor announced before the meeting that the request had been deferred for further study.

The other item related a request for greenbelt funds for the Cultural Life and Enrichment Center Project. The Group is seeking property on which to construct facilities. Its project was endorsed by the Greenbelt Bank but deemed too expensive. Council advised it to talk to the town of Ravenel about using property it owned. But according to a principle of the group, the Mayor of the Town has no interest in discussing any potential use.

There were sharp exchanges between Council members Darby and Condon last night as to whether Council had fulfilled its promises to the group. We won’t point a finger at anybody except to say that there also seems to be some misunderstanding on the part of the Group as to what is required to obtain greenbelt funds.

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