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City Council, December 17

Recognitions of Mayor Berlin Myers and Chief Mullen
And the City’s new and shiny toy
Warwick Jones

Last night’s meeting was the last before Christmas. Usually such meetings are short. Last night’s should have been as City business took only about 20 minutes. But it was prolonged an hour by presentations and recognitions. Mayor Riley was back in the chair and showed no visible impact of his recent operation. Indeed, there was as much vigor in his speeches and manner as at any time in the recent past. And as usual, words came easy to him as he dealt with matters before Council.

We’ll comment on only two of the recognitions. The first was of Berlin Myers, a long time Mayor of Summerville. Mayor Riley spoke glowingly of the Mayor’s achievements and the 46 years of service as the Mayor of Summerville. Understandably, age has slowed Mr. Myers but his short speech showed he had lost none of his spark. He got a standing ovation from those in attendance. The second was for Police Chief Mullen, and was on behalf the SC Parks and Recreation. Mr. Tom O’Rourke, executive directive of the Charleston PRC, made the presentation and noted the state award was made annually to the person deemed to have contributed most to the community. Mr. O’Rourke spoke of the dedication of Chief Mullen and the large drop in crime rates in the City since he took control. Mayor Riley also spoke and in praising terms. “Nobody has done more”, he said. The Police Chief’s response was short and respectful. He spoke of surprise of the award and acknowledged help of many others in his efforts. We’ll say no more except the Chief received a standing ovation, and the applause was sustained, possibly for the longest period we can remember for any award recipient.

As for City business, there was not much. Council approved the 2014 budget for the Hospitality Fee. Fee income was projected at $12.8 million compared to the $11.97 million projected for 2013. The biggest outlay from the fund was the $5.66 million to the City’s General Fund. Last year the outlay was $4.7 million. The second largest was to the City’s Capital Improvement Fund, at $4.5 million and down from $5.26 million last year. Other outlays were $750,000 for the Gaillard Center start-up costs. Last year Gaillard items accounted for $200,000. The International African –American Museum was allocated $130,000 compared with $75,000 last year. Allocations for large projects in the Capital Improvement Fund included $2.2 million for the Gaillard, $600,000 for Colonial Lake, and $1.4 million for the renovation of the Seawall.

The 2014 budget for the Stormwater Utility Fund was also approved. Fees were projected at $6.3 million, up slightly on 2013’s $6.19 million.

Council also approved the purchase of lots aggregating 2.68 acres on Bender Street in West Ashley for $645,000. Council was told that the lots were the other side of Oldtown Creek and could be viewed from Charlestowne Landing. The purchase would allow the creation of a park and preserve the vista from Charlestowne Landing. In some way, it may be possible to connect the park in future with the West Ashley bikeway, the Mayor said.

The only other item of note was the much viewed display outside City Hall of the City’s shiniest new toy – a large fire truck. It is probably called something else than a truck but whatever, it is huge. It also cost the best part of a million dollars. It would make the heart of any small boy beat fast through probably not faster than some of the admirers last night. We don’t know what “state of the art” looks like but we suspect it is like that which was on view. Our only question, how will a machine of such size turn around some of the corners in the narrow streets of the historic district?

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