The Price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance
Charleston County Council
February 24, 2017
County Council, February 23
Serving the underserved communities
County may study some suggestions by Mr. Kwadjo CampbellWarwick Jones
It was a light agenda for all of the committee meetings yesterday. Appointments took up much of the time of the Finance Committee but it was a presentation to the Economic Development Committee that took up most of the time.
February 03, 2017
County Council, February 2
Council agrees to supplement funding for I -526
But where will the funds come from?Warwick Jones
It may be premature to say, but the completion of I-526 now seems possible, though hardly certain. Completion has been in limbo as the County, the State Infrastructure Bank (SIB) and the Department of Transportation faced off over funding the completion. It seems that the SIB will be agreeable to providing the funding it originally promised ($425 million) if the County ponied up the balance of $345 million. Last night, the County agreed to provide the extra funding, but to the chagrin of some Council members, gave no indication as the source of the funds. The ordinance before Council committed the County to providing $150 million directly and $195 million from federal sources through CHATS.
January 21, 2017
County Council, January 19
Preparing for spending half-cent sales tax funds
Policy for allocating Community Investment Funding approved
Policy for allocating Community Investment Funding approvedWarwick Jones
Discussions relating to spending the funds raised by the recently approved half-cent sales tax took up the major part of last night’s Finance Committee meeting. No motions were made and no votes counted. But there were some issues.
December 16, 2016
County Council, December 15
To expand Minority Small Business program
Agrees to make executive sessions last agenda itemWarwick Jones
There was heat and confusion over the plan to expand the County’s minorities’ small business program. Staff made a presentation about a month ago but was instructed to come back with a budget and more details. This they did but there was a lot of discussion before agreement was reached.
December 02, 2016
County Council, December 1
West Ashley TIF district approved
Resolution needed on Community Investment funding
It wasn’t a surprise. Mayor Tecklenberg did what was requested and the Finance Committee approved the West Ashley Tax Increment Financing district in the City of Charleston.
November 16, 2016
County Council, November 15
Approval for West Ashley TIF district likely
City looking to make provision of Affordable Housing mandatory
We suspect there was a lot of discussion between City and County Council members prior to last night’s County meeting. At its last meeting, the County Finance Committee voted down the West Ashley TIF district proposed by the City of Charleston and clearly, Mayor Tecklenberg and City Council members were disappointed. The revitalization of West Ashley is a major objective of the Mayor and the TIF was possibly the most important tool in achieving it.
November 12, 2016
County Council, November 10
Finance Committee rejects West Ashley TIF
But extends funding for North Charleston Convention Center projectWarwick Jones
The redevelopment of West Ashley has been an important goal of Mayor Tecklenberg and some members of City Council. But so far it has not been an easy path. Despite the wide approval of its goals, the creation of the Commission overseeing the redevelopment took some time, and it began working only a month or so ago. But progress may be at a slower pace than the Mayor and City Council expected.
November 02, 2016
County Council, November 1
More criticism of the Chair
But some went too farWarwick Jones
Last night’s meeting was tense. It had nothing to do with what was on the agenda. It had all to do with the Chairman’s comments to the Coastal Conservation League and Nix 526, published in the Post and Courier some weeks ago. But we will start this commentary with the report on the first item of Council’s agenda – a presentation which is relevant to citizen’s comments.
October 19, 2016
County Council, October 18
Where is the outrage on the Chair’s comments?
Planning for the development of 995 Morrison Drive
Where is the outrage? Perhaps the Presidential election has sucked it out of us. Most folk think the candidates of the two major parties are eminently unworthy to lead the county – they lack honor, integrity, honesty, ability and other things. The prospect that one of these candidates will be the future President, depresses most of us. And set against this prospect, the recent transgressions of the County Chair are in deep shadow. And although we may condemn Chairman Summey for what he said, it seems relatively unimportant.
October 14, 2016
County Council, October 13
A step forward on the new MRFWarwick Jones
Chairman Summey dug himself a deep hole. It is a very deep hole and we doubt that he will be able to climb out. The comments he made about fellow Council members, black people and local politicians were offensive and crude. His private and public views and actions on I-526 were extreme perfidy. Also very telling is his naivete, if we are polite, or his arrogance, if we are realistic. To think that he could make these comments to groups and not be reported in the press or elsewhere begs belief.
September 30, 2016
County Council, September 29
Some uncertainty about MRF contract
Resolution by next Council meeting probableWarwick Jones
Will the County ever build a recycling facility? It’s getting closer but if Council member Qualey had his way, a decision would be deferred for another 6 months. He wanted to wait and see if the new Material Recycling Facility (MRF) now under consideration in Berkeley County is successful. But as his peers remarked, can the County wait another 6 months and indeed, will 6 months be sufficient to see it built and assessed?
September 16, 2016
County Council, September 15
SC DOT opinion sought on Legare Bridge lane closure
Issues over Community Investment allocationsWarwick Jones
The creation of a bike lane by the closure of a traffic lane on the Legare Bridge was the most important item on last night’s agenda. It seemed to us that most Council members were unhappy about the proposal but did not want to pull the trigger to kill it. Instead, they voted to approve a motion by Council member Pryor - to ask the Department of Transportation (SC DOT) if the lane closure was viable and the bridge was structurally sound, and as such, could the SC DOT approve the construction plans as in the MOU with the City of Charleston, the County and the SC DOT?
August 18, 2016
County Council, August 18
Discussion of lane closure on Legare Bridge deferred
More information sought on Community Investment Program allocationsWarwick Jones
The closure of a traffic lane over the Legare Bridge to make way for a bike and pedestrian lane is still unresolved. City Council voted in favor of the closure about a month ago. The County has yet to approve the move and the issue was up for discussion at today’s Finance Committee meeting.
August 10, 2016
County Council, August 9
Sales tax referendum to go ahead
But with no question about the completion of I-526Warwick Jones
Council agreed last night to go ahead with the half-cent sales tax referendum. It was a tense meeting but not as fractious as the first attempt at the second reading some weeks ago. And we surmise that no Council member was totally happy with the outcome.
July 27, 2016
County Council, July 27
Sales tax referendum ballot passes second reading
But issues remainWarwick Jones
The sales tax referendum ballot passed the second reading with only Council member Johnson in opposition. As expected, a special meeting of the Council was called to again consider the referendum ballot, and it was held today. There was little discussion and no other motions were voted upon. Council members Darby and Condon were absent and Chairman Summey indicated that he would oppose any vote or motion beyond that for the second reading. This was out of deference to the absent Council members.
July 22, 2016
The sales tax referendum is dead
But it could be resurrectedWarwick Jones
Technically, the referendum on a half-cent sales tax is dead. It failed to pass second reading last night. But the quick action by Council member Rawl may lead to its resurrection. He was amongst the members who voted against the referendum ballot. He indicated quickly after the conclusion of the voting that he wanted to change his vote. Whether this will make a difference depends on whether Council meets again, and quickly to discuss the issue.
July 15, 2016
County Council, July 14
Draft of Sales tax referendum ballot presented
MRF contracts to be awardedWarwick Jones
With Council meetings only once a month in summer, agendas can be long. Yesterday’s agendas were not lengthy, but the meetings were long. The most interesting item discussed was not on the agenda – the half cent sales tax referendum.
June 01, 2016
County Council, May 31
No surprises in next year’s budgets
Half cent sales tax collection higher than anticipatedWarwick Jones
It was almost a non-event. Yesterday’s special Finance Committee meeting was called to allow staff to present a summary of next year’s (FY2017 to June) budget. The presentation was short as was the subsequent discussion. And if there were a surprise, it was that there were no surprises.
April 22, 2016
County Council, April 21
April 08, 2016
County Council, April 7
Placating the SIB on I-526 funding
More help for well and septic upgrades for low income householdsWarwick Jones
As expected, the resolution on I-526 drew many citizens to the Finance Committee meeting last evening. A number rose to speak, both for and against the completion of the project, and in our view nothing new was said. We think they were wasting their breath. The resolution before the Committee did nothing to advance the completion of the project but perhaps something to stop it sinking into oblivion. And the full Council at a special meeting at the close of the Finance Committee session approved the resolution with a 5 to 3 vote. Council members Condon, Qualey and Schweers were opposed and Darby abstained.
March 18, 2016
County Council, March 17
Stormwater Fee to double
Cameras to monitor traffic on beach access roads. Why?Warwick Jones
Two issues that had been discussed at previous meetings were voted on last night by the appropriate Committees – a higher Stormwater Fee and the Community Investment Policy.
March 04, 2016
County Council, March 3
County to “pull plug “on Chicora Life Center
Increase in Stormwater Management Fee seems likelyWarwick jones
It happened at last. The County terminated the agreement to lease space in the Chicora Life Center. The County planned to locate a number of health and social services in what was once a naval hospital. The owner of the structure was obliged to renovate the leased space before the County moved in, but fell well behind its obligations. The County agreed to move the deadlines on two occasions but satisfactory completion has still not been achieved. Council has clearly lost patience and perhaps faith in the owners of the building. Last night, as well as agreeing to terminate the agreement, the Finance Committee asked staff to look at other alternatives for relocating the services.
February 19, 2016
County Council, February 18
Lots of grief over recycling
Is water quality on Wadmalaw a real issue?Warwick Jones
Council member Schweers described it as “painful”. We would have added “embarrassing”. He was referring to the discussion by the Environmental Management Committee during and following a presentation by staff. The purpose of the presentation was to bring the Committee up to date on developments in solid waste disposal. We suspect Committee members were more confused than enlightened.
February 05, 2016
County Council, February 4
Council seeks to restrain its members
Mayor’s guidance sought on development of 995 Morrison DriveWarwick Jones
There was little on the agendas of the Committee meetings last night. But members spent a lot of time discussing them, and we suspect to the irritation of Council member Rawl who was in the chair most of the evening.
January 22, 2016
County Council, Jan 21
We think the conduct of meetings can be improved
County to consider new software for Public Safety departmentsWarwick Jones
We were less than impressed by the performance of the Committees at last night’s meeting. It is not that we had any issues with the decisions of the Committees. Indeed, we would have concurred with most of them. It was the lengthy deliberations and slack adherence to the proper conduct of meetings. Some members had strong feelings about their causes and obviously felt that by repeating their views, the cause would advance. Firmer action from the Chairs would have made for quicker decisions and with little expense of meaningful rhetoric.
January 08, 2016
County Council, January 7
Summey continues as Chair of Council
And Rawl as Vice ChairWarwick Jones
There was only one item of interest on the agenda for the Council’s first meeting of the year. It was the election of the Chair and Vice Chair.
December 18, 2015
County Council, December 17
Contract for work on Folly/Camp Road intersection awarded
New hotel for Peninsula, maybeWarwick Jones
Work on the Folly/Camp Road intersection is likely to begin shortly with the approval of the construction contract. Council last night awarded the contract to Bank Construction who bid $13 million for the project.
December 09, 2015
County Council, December 8
More action sought to mitigate flooding on Wadmalaw
Firefighters concerned about management of St Paul’s Fire DistrictWarwick Jones
The agenda for yesterday’s meetings of the Finance Committee and Council was short and featureless. But the meetings were not without interest. Citizens from Wadmalaw Island and firefighters from the St. Paul’s Fire District had much to say during the citizens’ participation period.
November 20, 2015
County Council, November 19
Spring Grove Project gets final approval
Some differences over amendments
Some differences over amendmentsWarwick Jones
The only item of interest on the agenda of yesterday’s Finance Committee meeting was the 3rd reading of the Spring Grove Ordinances. The most important was the Spring Grove Development Agreement (DA) which is effectively a “contract” between the County and the developer of the project. The Committee approved all of the ordinances but it seems the passage of the DA was not without some bumps.
November 06, 2015
County Council, November 5
Spring Grove Development gets second reading
A 0.5% levy on real estate sales to fund community projectsWarwick Jones
The agenda suggested that yesterday’s Finance Committee meeting would be short. Only 4 items were up for discussion and they were dealt with relatively promptly. It was the executive sessions the consumed the time, and added well over an hour to the meeting. The sessions dealt with Medical Services to jail inmates, the Spring Grove Development, and the Chicora Life Center (Naval Hospital).
October 09, 2015
County Council, October 9
Spring Grove Development gets the nod
Simmering differences between County and Chicora Life Center developerWarwick Jones
The Spring Grove Development is at last coming to the final stages of approval. The proposed development has been before the County now for more than 5 years and last night the Planning/Public Works Committee gave approval for a cluster of ordinances relating to the development, the most important of which was the Development Agreement. The Committee was told by staff there were still some issues but they would be sorted out before the Agreement went for its final reading before Council.
September 25, 2015
County Council, September 24
Tentative steps to building flyover at Highway 17 and Main Road
Camp Road library branch may not closeWarwick Jones
It was fun and games during one part of yesterday’s Finance Committee meeting. But more of that later. The most important item discussed at the meeting was the flyover on Route 17 at its intersection with Main Road.
September 11, 2015
County Council, September 8
A flyover on Highway 17 at Main Road? It will cost $50 million
Problems in financing I-526Warwick Jones
The Finance Committee wrestled with the problem of flooding and traffic congestion on Main Road and Highway 17. Probably all thought that a flyover on Highway 17 was the way to go but some baulked at the estimated cost - $50 million. Where was the funding? The County would be hard pressed to provide the funds, it was the State and Federal responsibility, even if the State promised funds, should it be relied on? The Committee ultimately decided to table the issue and tasked staff to seek further information.
August 21, 2015
East Edisto project agreement close to conclusion
No discussion or light on Naval Hospital contractWarwick Jones
There were a number of items of importance on yesterday’s agendas, but in a sense, little that was newsworthy or can be reported on.
July 17, 2015
County Council, July 16
No resolution of problems at Bees Ferry landfill
Old incinerator site to be soldWarwick Jones
The meeting of the Recycling/Solid Waste (R/SW) Committee took up most of yesterday’s proceedings. Although the Finance Committee agenda had 8 items, there was little discussion and all items were passed quickly and unanimously.
June 12, 2015
County Council, June 11
Most elected officials to receive “market" level remuneration
But Treasurer to receive much moreWarwick Jones
The Finance Committee wrestled hard yesterday over pay increases for elected officials. No member of the Committee had issues over the need for an increase. But how large should they be, and to what extent should they be adjusted in future for Cost of Living increases (COLA) and merit pay? After the making and dismissal of a number of motions, the Committee voted to increase remuneration to the “market" level determined by the County’s Committee for Auditing, Performance and Evaluation Standards (CAPES). There would be no COLA or merit increases unless such increases were also voted by Council for staff. There would not be longevity allowances. At the insistence of Chairman Summey, the remuneration of the County Treasurer was to rise to $124,000 from the $111,022 “market” level determined by CAPES.
May 29, 2015
County Council, May 28
Sites for libraries in James Island and West Ashley chosen
Library Board rebuffedWarwick Jones.
The Finance Committee last night chose the sites for new libraries on James Island and in West Ashley. And they were not the recommendation of the Library Board. At a meeting a month ago, staff was tasked to create a list of all suitable and available sites for the libraries and for the Library Board to make a recommendation for review by the Committee. The lists had 12 potential sites for West Ashley and 9 for James Island. The recommendations were given to the Committee last night.
May 20, 2015
County Council, May 19
Millage increase proposed in General Fund budget
Strong property tax revenue not enough to offset all appropriationsWarwick Jones
Staff gave an outline of its proposed 2016 budget at the special Finance Committee meeting yesterday. Expansion of the library system and new hires under Public Safety would significantly lift expenditures. To balance the General Fund, staff recommended an increase in the millage rate from 40.7 to 44. 7. This would represent a tax increase of $160 on a residence valued at a million dollars.
May 15, 2015
County Council, May 14
Sheriff’s Department to get body cameras
Issues over funding for senior centers and non-profitsWarwick Jones
The most important item discussed and approved last night was the provision of body cameras for the Sheriff’s office. But more time was spent on discussing how to deal with requests for funding for senior centers, and non-profit organizations.
April 17, 2015
County Council, April 16
Decision deferred on site for new library on James Island
Staff to look for more possible sitesWarwick Jones
The Finance Committee directed staff to investigate the availability of other properties beyond the three discussed last night for siting a new public library on James Island. It was to report back within 30 days. The decision was a logical step in our view in the light of the public hearing and discussion. The discussion of the Committee was along a circuitous route over which there was much disagreement. The final motion, proposed by Chairman Summey passed with only Council member Rawl opposed. But the motion followed two others that fell short of approval by one vote.
April 08, 2015
County Council, April 7
Consideration of new technologies for waste treatment abandoned
RFP for Materials Recycling Facility to move aheadWarwick Jones
The Finance Committee struggled after the presentations by the two companies making proposals to manage, extend and improve the County’s recycling efforts. It struggled to comprehend the contents of the presentations, to accept their plausibility, to make reasonable comparisons, and to reach a conclusion. In the end, it opted to follow the old adage “when in doubt do nothing”. After some debate, the Committee decided, (or defaulted) to simply move ahead with its own plan to build a Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) and to defer any consideration of utilizing new technologies until the MRF plant was constructed. And from the discussion, any new technology considered would have to be proven.
April 03, 2015
County Council, April 2
Council mulls the next step in recycling
And on plans for the Morrison Drive propertyWarwick Jones
Under its new Chair, Council member Condon, the Recycling/Solid Waste Committee had its first meeting yesterday. Considering that it had a scheduled start 1 ½ hours before the start of that for the Finance Committee, a lengthy meeting must have been anticipated. It was lengthy, with more than half time taken up by an executive session to deal with “contractual matters”. The session might also have included discussion of the sudden departure that morning of Art Braswell, the head of Solid Waste, from the County employ. Before it broke for the executive session, the Committee discussed the new technologies that could be available to deal with solid waste disposal, and the results of a Request for Proposals (RFP) which drew interest from only two contractors.
March 20, 2015
County Council, March 19
CARTA loan of $7.6 million forgiven
Council member Rawl unhappy about mutual assistance agreementsWarwick Jones
Differing from most meetings this year, that of the Finance Committee last night was lively. The issue of forgiving a $7.6 million loan to CARTA was divisive, as was a 5-year tax abatement extension for Greenridge Properties LLC. County Sherriff Cannon was also taken to task by Council member Rawl over his department’s “assistance operations” outside the County but it seemed that few or any other Council members shared his ire.
February 20, 2015
County Council, February 19
“Clean” report by external auditor, again!
Contract for new cell at Bees Ferry landfill awardedWarwick Jones
The Finance Committee met last night and similar to other recent meetings, there was little news worthy on the agenda.
January 07, 2015
County Council, January 6
Summey elected Chairman of County Council
Rawl to Vice-Chair
It was the first meeting of the year. Council members gathered for photographs and swearing-in of newly elected officers. They liberally distributed greetings, hugs and bonhomie amongst themselves and well-wishers. After the half-hour joy fest, the photographs, and the administration of the oaths of office, the Finance Committee quickly worked through its limited agenda. But it would be another half an hour before the real business that had summoned us this night began – the election of the Chair and Vice - Chair.
December 19, 2014
County Council, December 18
Economic Development Department to double in size
St. Andrews PSD looks to move maintenance facility to Bees FerryWarwick Jones
It was the last meeting for 2014 and the agenda was long but light. The most interesting item was a presentation by Mr. Steve Dykes, head of the Economic Development Department. He wanted an increase in the department’s budget and a doubling of its staffing.
November 14, 2014
County Council, November 14
Concern about Development Master Plan for 995 Morrison Drive
CRDA seeks to heal divisionWarwick Jones
Last night’s Committee meetings were a marathon session of over three hours. Whether because of fatigue or other commitments, two Council members sneaked out (OK, left) before the end. And what is irritating, it turns out that much of the time spent was unnecessary.
October 31, 2014
County Council, October 31
Council deliberates over renewal of Administrator’s contract
We think the process has been belittlingWarwick Jones
As has been common of late, an executive session took up most of the meeting of the Finance Committee. There were few items on the agenda and most were dispensed in minutes.
October 17, 2014
County Council, October 16
Counties joining to request restoration of state funding levels
It was a long time in coming. Back during the March 20 Finance Committee meeting, the drop in state funding over recent years for the County’s General Fund was discussed. State funding is an important source of revenue and the cuts have strained budgets. Staff was asked to approach the South Carolina Association of Counties (SCAC) to seek support for the restoration of Local Government Funding to previously agreed statutory levels. Before the Committee last night was a resolution prepared by SCA and which was sent for signing to all counties in the State.
October 02, 2014
Council member attempts to make political capital
Issue with RMC is hardly majorWarwick Jones
The Finance Committee agenda promised little of interest for last night’s meeting. The promise was realized. But it was still a long meeting. The Committee retired for an executive session to consider the acquisition of the Grand Bees property (adjacent to the Bees Ferry Landfill) and the sale of a portion of 995 Morrison Drive. However, no action was taken on either of these items, Chairman Pryor noted. However the Committee voted to accept the staff’s recommendation on the acquisition of a right of way on Palmetto Park Way 3. No details of the staff’ recommendation were given.
September 05, 2014
County Council, September 4
Council to vote on comparative remuneration study
Spring Grove Development awaiting County ApprovalWarwick Jones
Most of last night’s Finance Committee meeting was taken up by discussion over the update and amendments to Policy and Procedures for compensation. It followed on the decision by Council a month back to adopt the recommendations of the Committee for Auditing Performance and Evaluation Standards (CAPES). These recommendations related to a complete revision of job classifications, the pay system, and the introduction of merit awards for County employees. (We summarized the proposed revisions in our report on July 24). Before Council last night were the detailed changes and amendments that were necessary for Personnel/Policy to reflect the recommendations of CAPES.
August 22, 2014
County Council, August 21
Pay issue taken off agenda
Discussion on CRDA set for next TuesdayWarwick Jones
Attendees at last night’s Finance and Economic Development Committee’ meetings were not only disappointed but also punished. There was no discussion or decision on raising the remuneration of Council members, or contributions to the Charleston Regional Development Alliance (CRDA), both very controversial issues. But attendees also had to wait through two executive sessions, which took up about half of the 3 hour meetings.
July 25, 2014
County Council, July 24
County moves to streamline job classifications and pay plans
Decision deferred on Council member pay increasesWarwick Jones
It was an anticlimax. The Finance Committee decided to defer discussion and a vote on boosting Council members’ pay by nearly 50%. Council member Rawl noted that Council member Darby was overseas and considering the importance of the issue, a vote should wait until his return, he said. The Committee agreed. However, there was no hesitation or reluctance to approve the other recommendations of the Committee for Auditing Performance and Evaluation Standards (CAPES). These recommendations related to a complete revision of job classifications, the pay system, and the introduction of merit awards for County employees.
June 13, 2014
County Council, June 12
Referendum on bond issue to finance library expansion
Move to add 70 acres to Bees Ferry landfill operationWarwick Jones
The Board of Trustees for the County Library (CCBOT) made its pitch before the Finance Committee last night to allow a referendum on a bond issue. The issue would raise up to $108.5 million and the funds, in the main, used to build 2 new branches, replace 3 existing branches, and renovate the remaining 13. The Committee approved the referendum, to be held in November, with only Council member Qualey opposed.
May 21, 2014
County Council, May 20
No tax increase for major funds in FY2015 budget
Amendments made to proposed Folly Road overlayWarwick Jones
There was little contention in last night’s discussion over the FY 2015 budget. Staff gave a presentation, and although a lengthy discussion followed, there was no heat. Of course there may be in the next Council session. Council member Darby suggested that the 1.8% Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) be modified – that staff earning over $100,000 a year receive 1% and those earning less, 2%. He subsequently suggested a further modification which we think was a 1.5% rate for those between $100,000 and $50,000. Discussion on the proposal will wait until the staff estimates the cost to the County.
May 16, 2014
County Council, May 15
Country to lease Naval Hospital for social services hub
Courtenay Drive property to be sold to MUSC for Children’s Hospital
Courtenay Drive property to be sold to MUSC for Children’s HospitalWarwick Jones
The sale of the County’s property on Courtenay Drive and abutting MUSC had been considered for some years. A number of agencies occupy the buildings. To construct another building to house the agencies and others to which they were allied, would have cost an estimated $34 million. This was more than the County could afford. But the sale, and the solution to better locating the agencies, became possible when the County was offered a lease over space in the old Naval Hospital.
May 02, 2014
County Council, May 1
April 23, 2014
County Council, April 22
No change in proposals for Maybank Highway and Folly/Camp Road
Council member Johnson seeks amendments to Folly Road overlayWarwick Jones
If attendees thought something was going to change in relation to the Maybank Highway development, they could have stayed home last night. Nothing changed, at least not to the nature of the project. But Council took a very long time deliberating and discussions took a surprising but temporary turn.
April 18, 2014
County Council April 17
Move to divert Federal funding to Folly/Camp Road intersection
Need for CHATS approvalWarwick Jones
There was only one item on the agenda for yesterday’s Finance Committee meeting. It was titled Maybank Highway Improvements Project. But it was much more than that. It was tied to the completion of the Folly/Camp Roads intersection improvements. After reading staff’s comments, we thought the issue was pretty simple. We still think it was, but in the minds of some Council members, it clearly wasn’t.
April 04, 2014
County Council, April 3
Folly Road Overlay moves ahead
Some changes in Roadwise plan for Maybank HighwayWarwick Jones
The agendas for yesterday’s meetings were light. But issues over the Folly Road Overlay, and a presentation on Roadwise made for a lengthy evening.
March 21, 2014
County Council, March 20
County seeks to restore State funding levels
Issues continue over land purchase at Bees Ferry landfillWarwick Jones
Finance Committee members were not happy after the staff presentation last night. The message conveyed by staff was that Columbia was stiffing the County, and every other County in the state, big dollars. For Charleston County, the blow is an estimated $3 2 million for this fiscal year. The accumulation since 2009 is an estimated $17.1 million.
March 07, 2014
County Council March 6
February 21, 2014
County Council, February 21
Another “unqualified opinion” auditor’s report
FY2014 budget outlook goodWarwick Jones
It was smiles all round at last night’s Finance Committee meeting. The County was heaped with praise by its auditors who gave again an “unqualified” opinion on its accounts and funds; staff gave favorable reports on the 2013 budget and the outlook for the FY 2014 budget. The Committee also agreed unanimously to approve the Greenbelt Bank grant to assist the purchase of land abutting Angel Oak.
February 07, 2014
County Council, February 6
No term limit for County Chair
Site for new recycling facility to be purchased for $2.78 millionWarwick Jones
We thought there might have been some heat generated in the meeting of the Administration Policy/Rules Committee. There wasn’t. Indeed, some Council members may have been unhappy with the status quo but they were not about to change it.
January 24, 2014
County Council, January 23
Discussion deferred on limiting term limits for County Chair
Library Board wants $100 million. County approves a referendumWarwick Jones
The cold weather did little to encourage attendance at last night’s meetings. There were fewer than usual of both attendees and Council members. The absence of Council members Darby and Summey prompted deferral of an interesting issue before Administration/Policy Rules Committee (APRC) - allowing the Chair of Council to serve for only two consecutive years. Presently, the Chair is elected at the beginning of each year and assuming re-election each year, can continue to serve indefinitely. Up for discussion was whether a Council member could be elected Chair for a third consecutive year.
January 08, 2014
County Council, January 7
A long and fractious meeting on Solid Waste
Decisions again deferred but probably not for longWarwick Jones
After last night’s marathon session of 4 hours, we have to wonder. Presentations and discussion on solid waste treatment and disposal took up most of the time. Solid waste issues have hovered over Council for some years and have prompted many executive sessions. But at the conclusion of last night’s often-heated session we pondered - Was last night the first time that Council was aware of all the facts? Had it been told before and wasn’t listening? Had members asked the right questions? Had they been given the right answers?
January 03, 2014
County Council, January 2
Council member Pryor reelected to Chair
Land swap deal moves ahead but with less supportWarwick Jones
Predictably, the first item on the agenda for last night’s special Council meeting was election of the Chair. In a straightforward vote, Council member Pryor was returned to the position with 7 votes for, one opposed and one abstention. Council member Summey was reelected to the Vice Chair with 8 votes for and one abstention.
December 20, 2013
County Council, December 19
Issues over land swap and appointmentsWarwick Jones
There was little Christmas cheer at last night’s meetings. The Administration/Policy Rules Committee and Planning Public Works Committee meetings went without incident. But things heated up at the conclusions of the Finance Committee and Council meetings.
November 15, 2013
County Council, November 14
Greenbelt grant rejected for easement over Legare family property
Approves $12.5 million for African American MuseumWarwick Jones
We won’t say that the Finance Committee “rubber stamps” the recommendations of the County Greenbelt Bank. But most of the Bank’s recommendations have an easy passage though Council. So the rejection by the Finance Committee of the $900,865 grant to purchase a conservation easement over 314 acres on Johns Island was a surprise. The cost of the easement, at $2,869 an acre, was above the $1,634 an acre average paid by the Bank in 2012. But then again, the land was probably above-average value considering the frontage to the Stono River and the tributaries.
November 08, 2013
County Council, November 7
Council Schweers concerned about compensation over I-526 extension
Proposal to take down election signs within 7 days after an electionWarwick Jones
It wasn’t on the agenda and he didn’t want to discuss it tonight. But Council member Schweers thought that a discussion on I-526 was necessary in view of meetings between some Council members and the SC Department of Transportation (DOT) and the State Infrastructure Bank (SIB). He thought discussion should be on a future agenda. The Council member didn’t get what he hoped for. There was hostility to the request from Chairman Pryor and derision from Council member Summey. And there was considerable discussion.
October 18, 2013
County Council, October 17
Contract awarded for IOP Connector widening
New bar closing ordinance to be implemented in December timesWarwick Jones
The agendas for last night’s meetings were bare. The award of a contract to widen the Isle of Palms Connector was on that of the Finance Committee. The $2.37 million contract was awarded to Banks Construction. It entails work – earthmoving, paving, storm water drains, and traffic lights - from the intersection with I-17 to Riviera Drive, a distance of about a mile. Councilmember Schweers asked why there was only one bidder and would the improvements be finished before “beach” time next year. Staff responded saying that there were few firms with the skill and equipment to undertake the contract. And yes, the improvements would be finished before “beach” season. Council member Schweers also acknowledged that he thought Banks Construction did excellent work.
October 04, 2013
County Council, October 3
“Temporary” employees made “full time”
Another FILOT program for Daimler VansWarwick Jones
The agenda for last night’s Finance Committee meeting was light and none of the items up for discussion seemed controversial. But some Council members had a different view and a lot of heat was generated over some issues.
September 20, 2013
County Council, September 19
Reassurances over Consolidated Dispatch
CARTA budget approvedWarwick Jones
Until yesterday, the Public Safety Committee had not met since 2005. Yesterday’s meeting was prompted by the failure of a dispatcher to pass on calls when received at the newly constructed Consolidated Dispatch Center. The failure was well covered in the local media and the individual responsible is now facing criminal charges.
September 06, 2013
County Council, September 5
Accommodation Tax Fund allocations for FY2104 – no surprises
A Vietnam Veterans Memorial coming to Patriots PointWarwick Jones
Yesterday’s Finance Committee meeting was the first after the summer season - meetings are back to two a month instead of one. And the agenda for yesterday was very light.
July 12, 2013
County Council, July 11, 2013
Greenbelt funding to expand Angel Oak park
Second thoughts on early bar closing ordinanceWarwick Jones
Council was in a jolly mood yesterday. There was no apparent reason but goodwill and bonhomme were spread liberally. Even Council member Rawl, not known for his jocularity, cracked a funny and was seen to laugh. And Council member Condon’s questioning as to whether the proposed new and higher fees would cover the cost of time spent by staff on the Kiawah Rivers Plantation controversial, but now dead, Tax Increment Finance (TIF) district, had little bight.
May 31, 2013
County Council, May 30
Controversial issues on the Administration Policy/Rules Committee agenda not discussed
2014 allocations for road projects approvedWarwick Jones
Yesterday’s meeting was expected to be lively. But it wasn’t. The controversial issues of the responsibilities of the County Attorney and the term limit for the Council Chair did not come up for discussion. They were on the agenda of the Administration Policy/Rules Committee. But Council member Rawl, the Chair of the Committee, thought the responsibilities of the County Attorney could be better defined/refined than that described in yesterday’s agenda. He would come back to the Committee after further discussion with both the County Attorney and the Country Administrator. As for the term limit for the County Chair, it was simply passed over and nobody asked why. At least we didn’t hear any questions.
May 22, 2013
County Council, May 21
Questions but little anguish over proposed FY2014 budget
Millage increase offset by LOST credit for owner occupied dwellingsWarwick Jones
What a difference an improving economy makes. The Finance Committee had the staff’s proposed budget for FY 2014 before it last night. Some Council members had questions and concerns but there was none of the anguish and divisions that accompanied discussion over the proposed budgets of preceding years. Lower Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) credits, Intergovernmental revenues, and charges and fees, cut heavily into revenue and precipitated some painful belt tightening in those years. Council let its belt out a few notches this year and seems set to let it out a few more in the coming year.
May 17, 2013
County Council, May 16
County steps in to help victims of child abuse
Strong debate on proposed administration/policy rules likelyWarwick Jones
It was hard to oppose. MUSC was before Council pleading for funds to keep its Child Abuse Pediatrics Division (CAPD) running. There was no doubt about the worthiness of the service provided by the Division. But State funds had been cut and the Division needed to make up the shortfall. The County’s municipalities and surrounding counties were being approached to make contributions and eliminate the financing shortfall. Would Charleston County contribute $50,000?
May 02, 2013
Finance Committee kills TIF proposal for Kiawah River Plantation
Great presentation by Johns Island ConservancyWarwick Jones
The Finance Committee voted down the proposed TIF district for the Kiawah River Plantation (KRP) development. After last week’s special Finance Committee meeting where the Beach Company and others gave presentations, the action was not a surprise. Council at that time showed no enthusiasm for the proposal and some Council members were conspicuously hostile to it. And if it were concealed at that meeting, any enthusiasm should have been sundered last night by the presentation prepared by of the Johns Island Conservancy (JIC). The presentation raised a host of issues and called into question the legality and legitimacy of the proposed TIF district.
April 26, 2013
No enthusiasm for Kiawah River Plantation TIF
We also wonder about the School Board supportWarwick Jones
After last night’s special Finance Committee meeting, we’d say the Beach Company’s request for a TIF District covering its Kiawah River Plantation (KRP) project is going nowhere. Two Council members were plainly hostile to the idea. We won’t attempt to describe the attitude of other Council members except to say there was no show of enthusiasm for the request. Most likely a vote will be taken at the Council meeting on May 7
April 19, 2013
County Council, April 18
Ban on texting while driving goes nowhere
Upgrade for control systems at parking garagesWarwick Jones
A resolution, to be sent to Columbia requesting some action to curb texting while driving, was presented to the Finance Committee last night. Staff might be asking why they bothered putting it together. When the issue was discussed two weeks ago, there was little agreement over the appropriate course of action. What was likely to change? Last night, the Committee was more certain of the appropriate action. It killed the resolution, with only two Council members supporting it.
April 05, 2013
County Council, April 4
No enthusiasm to ban texting while driving
To request the State to address the issueWarwick Jones
Council member Qualey wanted to start “conversation” about banning texting while driving. Accordingly, it was placed on the agenda for last night’s Finance Committee meeting. The item certainly stimulated conversation. But that may be all it stimulated. At the conclusion of the “conversation”, staff was tasked with drawing up a resolution to be sent to the state, asking it to address the issue of texting while driving. Judging from the range of Council member views, it seems the resolution can request little else and have the support of full Council.
March 22, 2013
County Council, March 21
Unexpected financial windfalls
Staff to each receive one-time $1000 bonusWarwick Jones
The news was good in the Fiscal 2013 mid-year financial review by staff. The Finance Committee was told that revenues in Fiscal 2012 (to June 30) were $2.9 million higher than originally projected in the General Fund, and receipts of the Debt Service Fund, $1.7 million higher. And there was good news for Fiscal 2013 as well. Largely because of higher than projected revenue from delinquent tax collection, the Local Option Sales Tax, and RMC fees and stamps, revenues in the General Fund were expected to be $5.5 million higher than last projected.
March 08, 2013
County Council, March 7
New system to cut response time over Consolidated Dispatch
More on I-526Warwick Jones
It wasn’t the most fractious Finance Committee meeting we have witnessed. But some of the exchanges amongst Council members last night had nasty tones and arguably were unwarranted.
February 06, 2013
County Council, February 5
Heated exchanges over Council rules
What are rights of Chairman and Council members to set agendas?Warwick Jones
At the last meeting of the Administration Policy/Rules Committee (APRC), Council member Rawl who is Chair of the Committee led a discussion of some changes he proposed to Council rules. No vote was taken but as he indicated at the time, he planned to place them on the agenda for a vote at the next meeting of the ARPC. And that meeting was last night.
January 18, 2013
County Council, January 17
Proposals by Council member Rawl likely to generate heated debate
Welcome work planned for Route 17/Main Road intersectionWarwick Jones
One of the changes for the New Year was the appointment of Council member Rawl to the Chair of the Administration Policy/Rules Committee. The Committee had its first meeting of the year last night and it was clear that the new Chair plans changes. From the comment of one Council member, it seems Council members were given little or no notice of Council member Rawl’s proposals. In consequence, he read them aloud and noted that he was only seeking comments, not a vote.
January 04, 2013
County Council, January 3
Council member Pryor reelected to Chair
Sheriff Cannon reflects on mass shootings and gun controlWarwick Jones
As expected, Council member Pryor was reelected to the Chair of County Council. Council member Summey was reelected to the Deputy Chair. The voting was 5 to 4 for each of the positions. Council member Qualey first stood for Chair in opposition to Council member Pryor but after being defeated, stood for the Deputy Chair position where again he was defeated. Two Council members crossed party lines in voting. Council member Summey who switched his allegiance to the Republican Party during the year voted for Council member Pryor, a Democrat. Council member Condon, a Democrat voted for Council member Qualey.
December 14, 2012
County Council, December 13
County to go ahead with the I-526 completion
But what of the final cost and the County’s liability?Warwick Jones
Council last night voted to move ahead with the completion of I-526. Understandably, the folk that opposed the completion were disappointed. But even for those that supported the project, there were reasons for concern. Perhaps the biggest is the final cost. Modifications made last night to the plan seem certain to boost the cost well above the present $558 million estimate and the $555 million.funding promised by the State Infrastructure Bank (SIB) And the question remains from where will the extra funds come?
Posted by Warwick Jones at 12:13 PM
December 05, 2012
County Council, December 4
Staff presents options for I-526
No easy solution for Council!Warwick Jones
If Council members were looking for staff to find an easy solution to the I-526 issue, they must have been disappointed. Chairman Pryor tasked staff over a month ago to study the issue and present Council with the options. They did so last night. Following the presentation, it seemed that nothing much has changed and in broad terms only two options exist– the County moves ahead to complete the project or pays back the $11.6 million it owes to the State Infrastructure Bank (SIB) and which has already been spent on the project.
November 21, 2012
County Council, November 20
I-526 issue generates more heat
Council member questions impactWarwick Jones
As has become common in holiday periods, the Finance Committee meeting and the Council meeting were held back to back last evening. And despite the very light agenda, it all took a lengthy time.
November 09, 2012
County Council, November 8
SCE&G tries hard – but not hard enough for some landholders
Citizens continue to oppose I-526 projectWarwick Jones
Council member Rawl wondered out loud why the Finance Committee had to listen to a presentation from SCE&G. The presentation was for informational purposes only and no vote could be taken on any of the issues raised – Council had no power over the utility. He was right in his conclusion. But it is possible that Council members have some power of persuasion. Even if they do, we are uncertain as to whether they should use it over the issues raised.
October 12, 2012
County Council, October 11
Issues over land transfer to North Charleston Sewer District
Charleston Promise Neighborhood succeeding
Charleston Promise Neighborhood succeedingWarwick Jones
There was nothing of much import on yesterday’s Finance Committee meeting. A discussion on the transfer of a property to the North Charleston Sewer District and a presentation on Charleston Promise Neighborhood took up nearly all of the session.
August 31, 2012
County Council, August 30
Hunting rights issues cause deferral of Fairlawn greenbelt grant hearing
Council member Qualey tries to stop study of Kiawah River Plantation TIFWarwick Jones
There was a lot of talk at the Finance Committee last night but not much action. Council member Darby was not happy that the owners of Fairlawn Plantation had asked that a decision on their Greenbelt grant be deferred. He wanted a vote and thought that deferrals of matters brought before Council had been granted in an inconsistent manner. Many Council members disagreed and after prolonged discussion, voted to defer a decision on Fairlawn for 90 days. And then there was the Kiawah River Plantation TIF agreement. Council member Qualey sought to kill consideration of a TIF district to aid the development. And this too went nowhere.
August 15, 2012
County Council, August 14
No referendum on I-526 completion
Issues over Greenbelt purchase of Fairlawn PlantationWarwick Jones
Predictably, there was a lot of discussion and heat over Council member Rawl’s request to hold a referendum on the completion of I-526. The item was the last on the Finance Committee’s agenda and drew possibly a hundred or so citizens to the meeting. However, there was no opportunity for any to speak. And we doubt that this would have made a difference. Just about everything that can be said about the project has been said. Council was generally reluctant to again take up the issue. It was voted down, 6 to 2 with one abstention.
July 20, 2012
County Council, July 19
Citizens' views to be sought on another sales tax referendum
North Charleston scores $300,000 Accommodation Tax funding for shuttleWarwick Jones
There were a number of important items on last night’s Finance Committee meeting agenda. The most important related to a referendum for another half-cent sales tax. Similar to the existing half-cent sales tax, the proceeds would be used for roads, greenbelts and CARTA. As the Post and Courier in today’s edition gave a detailed account of discussion, we’ll limit ourselves to a summary.
June 13, 2012
County Council, June 12
A surprise over the Sea Island Greenway project
Proposed changes for Administration Policy/Rules tabledWarwick Jones
Council members probably felt a little foolish towards the end of the Planning/Public Works Committee meeting last night. The issue before the Committee was the Sea Island Greenway (SIG). Proponents of the greenway made a presentation before the Committee late last month and asked that the SIG be placed on the Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments (BCDCOG) Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP). The request generated a lot of heat. A subsequent Council meeting drew some 40 or so citizens and representatives of both sides presented their case. Last night, the opponents of the SIG were formally given an opportunity to present their case. After the presentations, the Committee began its discussion. No vote was to be taken as the purpose of the meeting was for only informational purposes. But as the letter from the BCDCOG submitted by Council member Qualey towards the end of the meeting indicated, a vote was moot. The SIG was already on the BCDCOG’s Long Term list!
June 06, 2012
County Council, June 5
Small gains for tax payers in 2013 budget
No forgiveness of CARTA loanWarwick Jones
The 2013 budget received its first reading at last night’s Council meeting. There were some changes to both the General Fund and the Transportation Sales Tax budgets presented to the Finance Committee Thursday last and not all Council members were in agreement.
June 01, 2012
County Council, May 31
Council divided on tax increase for fiscal 2013
A fractious discussion on rules and procedures
Will there be a tax increase in Fiscal 2013? In preparing the budget, staff assumed there would be – not a large one, from 39.1 mills to 41.1 mills for the General Fund. This did not sit well with some Council members and the vote on the Budget was split 4 to 4 at last night’s Finance Committee meeting - Council members Schweers, Qualey, Sass and Condon voting against, and Council member Summey abstaining. Council member Summey was unable to attend the budget session on Friday last and he said he needed to reflect on the proposed millage increase. Presumably he will vote at the Council meeting on Tuesday evening when the budget will again be considered.
May 18, 2012
County Council, May 17
TIF district to be created for Beach Company development
Folly gets some funds for beach renourishmentWarwick Jones
Discussion over the Beach Company’s request for the creation of a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District to assist in a new development at Kiawah took up much of last night’s Finance Committee meeting. The Planned Unit Development was approved about 3 years ago. On 1428 acres, it would entail the construction of 1285 single family homes, 450 guest rooms, 80,000 sq. feet of retail space, and a golf course.
May 04, 2012
County Council, May 3
A sorry County meeting
County Attorney “on trial” for earning too muchWarwick Jones
County Attorney Dawson was put on trial last night. Discussion by the Administration Policy/ Rules Committee may have been about arcane procedures – but essentially it was over Mr. Dawson. And what was the charge? He earns too much!
April 06, 2012
County Council, April 5
The issue of the County Attorney’s remuneration, again!
Record mosquito numbers
The remuneration of the County Attorney has been an issue dogging Council for years. At the core is the unusual way his remuneration is set. He receives a base amount but is allowed to charge for extra work. This extra work, relating to important legal matters involving the County, was very significant in some years and boosted his total remuneration. Part of that boost in the last year or so was $90,000 a year for heading the Solid Waste Division. In the last year, the total remuneration was $400,000, and compares with a “base” of $170,000.
March 23, 2012
County Council, March 22
County to support plan to improve libraries
Handouts for museums and CVB from Accommodation Tax Funds
Handouts for museums and CVB from Accommodation Tax FundsWarwick Jones
The County Public Library Board had its day in the sun before the Finance Committee yesterday. The Chair of Library Board reminded the Committee that County libraries had been victims of austerity in recent years and spending in many areas were below levels mandated by the State. Indeed, the austerity adopted by the County had deprived the County’s libraries of $900,000 over the last 3 years. Something needed to be done, Chair Segal told the Committee. The deficiencies in spending had to be addressed as well as the considerable future needs of the library system. All the members of the Committee agreed.
March 14, 2012
County Council, March 13
Revenues in General Fund running $6.3 million higher than projected
Bond refinancing leads to substantial cost savings
Bond refinancing leads to substantial cost savingsWarwick Jones
It was “feel good” times on Council last night. Firstly, the external auditor reported that the County’s FY2011 financial accounts received an unqualified opinion. And then staff told Council members of savings in a bond refinancing, and that things were looking up for FY2012 with likely higher than anticipated revenues. However, the outlook for FY2013 was uncertain. Revenues were anticipated to be close to previously projected levels, but costs may be higher than first forecast.
February 24, 2012
County Council, February 23
Requests for Accommodation Tax funding
Council member Qualey questions CVB roleWarwick Jones
There was little business before Council at yesterday’s session of the Finance Committee. But it was still a relatively long meeting because of presentations from three entities seeking funds to finance expansion or refurbishing projects. Each had an eye to the deliberations of Council in the next month or so over the allocation of Accommodation Tax funds.
January 20, 2012
County Council, January 19
Citizens: comments to be heard at beginning of Council meetings
As County Administrator O'Neal noted at the close, yesterday’s Finance Committee meeting was the shortest in his memory. The explanation was that there was very little on the agenda.
The only thing of note arising from the meeting was the decision to begin Council meetings at 6.30 pm instead of 7 pm. As well, the citizens’ comments session would now be heard at the beginning of the meeting and extend to 30 minutes. Chairman Pryor said that the move would be given a 90 day trial and then reviewed as to its success. Council meetings will still be held on every second and fourth Tuesdays of the month and Finance Committee meetings on the preceding Thursday..
We think moving citizen comments from the end to the beginning of a Council meeting is positive. In the past, citizens had no opportunity, unless public hearings were scheduled, to comment on many issues until Council had voted. There was no opportunity for a citizen to speak at a Finance Committee meeting and comments at the following Council meeting could only be made at the end of the meeting, after Council has voted. Citizens will be better served by the rescheduling.
January 11, 2012
County Council, January 9
Two contentious issues buried
Assigns completion of I-526 to state, and elects a chairman
Did we hear a large collective sigh of relief at the conclusion of yesterday’s Council meeting? Council members must have felt something kin to relief when they buried two contentious issues – the completion of I-526 and the election of Council Chairman.
January 06, 2012
County Council, January 3
No agreement as to who leads Council
Council member Pryor retains Chair by default
With Democrats holding a majority of seats on Council, the election of the Chair should have been straightforward. It wasn’t. Council member Pryor remained in the Chair after last night's vote, but was not voted to the position. No member who stood for the position obtained a majority and in consequence, Council member Pryor retained his position as Chairman.
December 07, 2011
County Council, December 6
A massive development project for North Charleston
I-526 still on hold, Redistricting Plan gets qualified approvalWarwick Jones
When the national economy gets back on its feet, Charleston will stand seven feet tall, a business colleague said recently. He was reflecting on the surging investment in the community by business groups. Of course, Charleston presently is not exactly an economic midget particularly after the investment of Boeing and some of its suppliers. But the appeal of Charleston that drew this investment remains strong. And it was evident at last night’s Council meeting.
November 11, 2011
County Council, November 9
High noon at the Lonnie Hamilton
Contention over public works projects and Solid Waste progress
It could have been a Hollywood western. Bristling with bravado, Big Ma Mosley marches up to the bar, orders a double whiskey. She downs it and glares at her adversaries. With a hand on her holster she flintily flings out a challenge. “ What’s ye’r beef boys? Y' gotta problem?”
November 04, 2011
County Council, November 3
Where are the property tax bills?
Committee formed to begin study of consolidationWarwick Jones
Council wondered out loud what on earth was going on at the Auditors Office. Where are the property tax bills for 2011? They should have been out some weeks ago and the delay will also delay the collection of revenue. This will not only be inconvenient but municipalities and agencies that rely on tax revenue may have to borrow and incur interest expense to tide them over.
October 21, 2011
County Council, October 20
Funding issues for Greenbelts
“Qualey” Plan approved for Harbor View RoadWarwick Jones
Differences seem to be growing on Council as to the direction of greenbelt funding. Some Council members contend that too much as been spent on conservation easements. More funding needs to be directed to acquiring property where the public has access, they say. The difference came to a head last night when a project approved by the Greenbelt Bank failed to win approval by the Finance Committee. The vote was evenly divided (4/4). Council member Summey was absent last night and his vote will be critical when Council meets on Tuesday evening next and the item is again considered. Council members Darby, Qualey, and Johnson, and Chairman Pryor voted against the approval at yesterday’s Finance Committee meeting. The slow deliberation by Council member Rawl suggests he too has some reservations about the financing of conservation easements.
October 07, 2011
County Council, October 6
Still deliberating over plastic in yard waste
Agenda sheets to be more descriptive?Warwick Jones
The issue over plastic in yard waste is likely to soon come to a head. Earlier this year, the County delayed the implementation of an ordinance to stop disposal of yard waste at Bees Ferry if it contained plastic. As most of the waste is collected in plastic bags, the ban on plastic requires major changes in the collection of garden trash by the municipalities. Predictably, some were not easy about the proposed change, particularly North Charleston. A change in collection methods would be costly. Most municipalities chose to go in future with paper bags. But North Charleston and many citizens were not convinced of their efficacy.
September 23, 2011
County Council. September 22
Council mulls changes to Harbor View Road plan
Some big changes likely in boundaries of some voting districts
The presentation given by Deputy Administrator Taylor to the Finance Committee yesterday was thorough and polite. He was addressing the Committee over the changes proposed by Council member Qualey to the Harbor View Road plan. But we thought there was a slight note of irritation too. And who would argue about its justification? We think Mr. Taylor would liked to have said the Harbor View Road plan was determined after many public hearings. It was shaped with the view of the public and the blessings of a number of agencies including the SC Department of Transportation. In consequence of this, Right of Way (ROW) by condemnation has been secured along the roadway to accommodate the proposed changes. Utilities have drawn up their plans too. And now Councilmember Qualey has yet another meeting with residents, and wants to change the plans. And what a mess it will be at this late stage!
September 09, 2011
County Council, September 8
Employees to get a 2% COLA in October
New Noise ordinance
It was mostly “bread and butter” items on the agenda for yesterday’s Finance Committee meeting. And in a sense, this was particularly true for County employees. The Committee approved a 2% cost of living adjustment (COLA) in wages and salaries for all employees. However the remuneration of Council members remained unaltered.
August 12, 2011
County Council, August 11
Issues with some Greenbelt fund applications
Harborview Road project on hold for 30 days
We thought the recommendations of the Urban Grants Review Committee, the Greenbelt Bank and staff over greenbelt fund grants would be quickly approved by Council. We were wrong. Council took issue with some of the recommendations and rejected three applications and deferred another.
June 03, 2011
County Council, June 2
Council wrestles with next move on I-526 extension
Concern over lower sales tax revenues and impact on Greenbelt programWarwick Jones
Chairman Pryor made an effort to find a solution to the I-526 impasse at last night’s Finance Committee meeting. But Council seemed unenthusiastic and sought time to dwell on approaching the issue.
May 18, 2011
County Council, May 17
Council seeks compromise over I-526
Is it even possible?
Is the I-526 issue still alive, or is it a corpse just waiting interment? We’d hazard that it’s the latter, but we can’t be sure. There is no doubt that a number of Council members and a large section of the public wish it buried. But some Council members and perhaps a large number of citizens still hope I-526 can be completed and mitigate the traffic congestion on Johns and James Islands.
May 04, 2011
County Council, May 3
Finance Committee meets before Council meeting
CVB seeking additional fundingWarwick 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.
April 15, 2011
County Council, April 14
Finance Committee decides against extending I-526
But will the State move ahead regardless?Warwick Jones
Those opposed to the extension of I-526 should be breathing easier after last night’s Finance Committee meeting. But they may not be breathing easy. Although the Committee voted unanimously against the extension proposed by the SC Department of Transportation, (SCDOT) some Council members feel the extension may still be built, but by the state.
April 01, 2011
County Council, March 31
Septic systems and Seniors’ center
Consultants and the Sheppard Tract
It was a relatively short Finance Committee meeting yesterday, at least until the Committee broke out for an executive session. Many of the items on the agenda related to procurement or minor capital projects. In summary, the Committee:
March 11, 2011
County Council, March 10
Clouds breaking over local economy
Bond issue by PRC gets the nod
The sun seems to be breaking through the clouds over the local economy. Staff told the Finance Committee at last night’s meeting that Accommodation Tax revenues were likely to be much higher than anticipated when the FY 2011 budget was put together. And as Council members exclaimed, the result should warm the hearts of the County’s municipalities as well as the County’s.
February 25, 2011
County Council, February 24
County in good financial shape
With a surplus in some Fund balances, better than we thoughtWarwick Jones
We won’t pretend that we fully understood the staff presentation at last night’s Finance Committee meeting. But we understood enough to see that the County is in relatively good financial shape, and indeed better than we thought.
February 11, 2011
County Council, February 10
Paper and not plastic bags for garden trash
No interest is selling or “privatizing” City garagesWarwick Jones
Come the end of June this year, citizens most likely will not be using plastic bags to dispose of their lawn and garden waste. The Finance Committee last night unanimously agreed not to accept garden trash in plastic bags at the Bees Ferry landfill after June 30. It expects that special paper bags will replace plastic bags.
January 21, 2011
County Council, January 20
Issues over appointment procedures
Valuations, and tension in executive session
The debate was civil but there was tension underneath. And this was strange because it was not an important issue, at least in the mind of this writer. The issue was appointments to County boards and commissions.
November 19, 2010
County Council, November 18
Problems with Radio system to be addressed
County will spend another $11 million on improvementsWarwick Jones
Citizens had to draw their own conclusions about one item on last night’s Finance Committee agenda. When the item, Radio System Upgrade/ Expansion came up for discussion, the Committee went immediately into executive session for about an hour. After returning to the chamber, members voted unanimously to award a contract to Motorola for $11 million to “upgrade/expand” the Consolidated Dispatch system. There was no further discussion.
October 20, 2010
County Council, October 19
Council endorses Finance Committee recommendation on Mark Clark
The sad plight of property holders in its possible path
Council made no substantial changes to the Finance Committee’s decision on the Mark Clark extension. The SC Department of Transport (DOT) will be asked
to further study plans for completion of I-526 Project, in addition to Alternative G to include:
1. Improve existing roads within the scope of the project
2. Proposal submitted at the Finance Committee entailing the completion of the project, without the James Island Leg
3. Further investigate New Ways to Work Plan
All continued analysis should bear in mind legal and financial constraints.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 08:25 PM
October 15, 2010
County Council, October 14.
Yet another plan for Mark Clark expressway
DOT’s proposal looks dead!
And so it goes on. The issue of the extension of the Mark Clark expressway remains unresolved. It does seem that the proposal of the State Department of Transport (DOT) is dead. But what will be built in its stead, or indeed if anything will be built, remains unresolved.
October 01, 2010
County Council, September 30
Another tough year ahead for the State and probably for the County
Tough for CARTA too
Those looking for a report on the Finance Committee meeting earlier this month would have been disappointed. There was none. It was a featureless meeting with only “bread and butter” items on the agenda. We thought that yesterday’s meeting would be similar. Most of it was but the presentation by a representative of the SC Association of Counties got our attention, and that of most others.
September 04, 2010
County Council, September 2
Land fill development issue dead, at least for 12 months
FILOT scheme to encourage investment by SPAWAR vendors
We expected a large turnout at Thursday’s meeting of the Planning and Public Works Committee (P&PW) meeting. The owner of a 313 acre parcel on Savannah Highway in the south west of the County was seeking an amendment to the Comprehensive Plan to allow the tract to be used for waste disposal. There was a lot of opposition to the proposal. The site is presently classed Conservation Management for future land use and is in the Ace Basin area.
August 13, 2010
County Council, August 12
Sea Island Greenway killed again
County will proceed on Safety Measures onlyWarwick Jones
The Sea Island Greenway (SIG) is dead, for now. It has been killed a couple of times in the past, but has somehow been resurrected. And maybe it will rise again to haunt the island. Its death last night was slow and extended over the major part of the two hour Finance Committee meeting. And indeed, there were times where it seemed the Sea Island monster would live to stretch its tentacle across the island. Ultimately, the Committee agreed only to Safety Improvements which include changes and modification to a number of intersections.
July 09, 2010
County Council, July 8
More applications for Grants
CARTA Budget, and Accommodation Tax allocationsWarwick Jones
It was a reasonably long agenda before the Finance and other Committees yesterday afternoon. The Finance Committee and the full Council meet only once a month over the summer and it was four weeks since the last Finance Committee meeting.
June 11, 2010
County Council, June 10
Agrees to forego TIF revenues to help finance the new Gaillard
A referendum to form a Commission to study consolidation in County?
At issue was the request from the City of Charleston for an extension of the King Street Gateway TIF (Tax Increment Financing) district for 10 years to 2023. The City needed the money from the TIF to help fund the proposed new Gaillard Auditorium. Agreeing to the request effectively means the County gives up revenues of about $1.5 million a year for 8 years beginning 2015. The recommendation of staff was no! The Finance Committee, and later Council, eventually voted yes, with conditions that were hardly onerous.
May 28, 2010
County Council, May 27
Chairman chides P&C
A proposal to mitigate the increase in property tax bills*Warwick Jones
Yesterday’s Finance Committee meeting agenda was light. Indeed, there was nothing worthy of comment. But Chairman Pryor at the close of the meeting got our attention with some comments on a Post & Courier editorial and a proposal to mitigate the planned effective property tax increase for Fiscal 2011.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:45 AM
May 14, 2010
County Council, May 13
More argument, but no change in proposed tax increase
GAB recommendations for changes in Greenbelt Plan approvedWarwick Jones
We missed the special meeting of the Finance Committee last week when discussion began over the Fiscal 2011 budget. Suffice to say, times are tough and revenues are weak. The Committee approved staff’s recommendation which included a 0.8 millage increase and a reduction of 10% in the allocation of the Local Option Sales Tax to offset property tax bills. Obviously these moves will increase the tax burden for County property owners.
April 30, 2010
County Council, April 29
Potential economic boost from a new air line
Trash collection; a budget session warm upWarwick Jones
The big news is that Charleston may again be served by a low fare airline. This could lead to hundreds of dollars in savings on individual flights to other major cities. But a subsidy will be required and County Council is looking to provide this by a 5% tax on car rentals.
April 16, 2010
County Council, April 15
To televise Council but not Finance Committee meetings
Issues over a planning forum: HUD grants, Attorney’s remunerationWarwick Jones
We thought we had heard it before. And we had, at a number of City Council meetings. The issue was to televise Council meetings. Differing from that on City Council, the discussion was relatively short and there was unanimous agreement amongst Council members to do so.
April 02, 2010
County Council, April 1,
Debates posting salaries again, but with same decision
The Sheppard Tract, Folly Beach Park and Airport Roads fundingWarwick Jones
Council was not at its best at yesterday’s meeting. As the Finance Committee, it revisited the issue of posting salaries of County employees on its web site. After lengthy debate, it came to the same conclusion it made at the previous meeting. And then there was the sale of the Sheppard Tract. It was to be used as a waste dump but the locals protested. The County agreed to sell the tract for $2.7 million and just before Council was to vote on the sale, it realized that the new owner still had the right to use the site as a dump. Wasn’t the purpose of the sale to remove the possibility of dumping? Back to the negotiating table!
March 12, 2010
County Council, March 11
Budget woes - this year is difficult
but 2011 could be worse!Warwick Jones
As it is about this time every year, the Finance Committee was treated yesterday with a review of the current year’s budget, and some projections for the future. It was not a pretty picture though we would be surprised if any Council member expected otherwise. Revenues for the current fiscal year (FY2010) are running below original estimates but the projected shortfall of $2.9 million is expected to be made up by more cost reductions and without significant impact on services.
February 26, 2010
County Council, February 25
Council opens its purse
Few seem concernedWarwick Jones
One wonders! We are in the midst of a major recession and significant recovery seems a long way off. The County Administrator is signaling a hard year ahead and the strong possibility that a millage increase will be necessary for the General Fund. But at the meeting of the Economic Development Committee there seemed little hesitation in signing off on borrowings of Trident Technical College (TTC), or questions as to where $155 million was coming from to finance road improvements related to the Boeing expansion.
February 12, 2010
County Council, February 11
Mead/WestVaco development comes closer to fruition
Greenbelt Plan fundamentals reaffirmedWarwick Jones
There was not too much on the agendas but yesterday’s meetings were lengthy. Much of the time was taken up by a presentation by a spokesman for Mead/WestVaco in relation to plans for its large property in the western part of the County. And then there was a presentation by the consultant to the County on the Greenbelt Plan.
January 29, 2010
County Council, January 28
Problems plague County’s digital radio system
Consultant to be hired to review Motorola’s proposed remedyWarwick Jones
All is not well in the implementation of the County’s new Digital Radio system. Staff wants to hire a consultant to review Motorola’s plan to rectify the problems. The County signed a contract with Motorola in 2005 for its entire analog system to be converted to digital. The new P225 system was identical to that being used by the Federal Government and other national entities.
January 12, 2010
Greenbelt Advisory Board
Fundamentals of the County Greenbelt Plan reaffirmed unanimously
Conservation easements a better tool than fee simple purchases for conservation
The Greenbelt Advisory Board (GAB) today affirmed the principles of the County Greenbelt Plan. The GAB was asked by County Council late last year to take another look at the plan and make recommendation for changes. This request followed the expression of unease by some Council members that much of the green belt funds was directed to the purchase of conservation easements where no public access was possible. Some Council members thought that fee simple acquisitions would be better and which would allow public access.
January 08, 2010
County Council, January 7
Council member Pryor elected to Chair again, and Summey to Vice Chair
Boeing, zoning fees and property taxesWarwick Jones
It was the first meeting of the year for the Finance Committee; As usual the first business was the election of the Chair and Vice Chair of Council. There were no surprises. Council member Teddie Pryor was re-elected as Chair. Council member Thurmond was nominated for Vice Chair but declined the nomination as he did not plan to run again when his term expired at the end of the year. Council member Summey was then nominated and elected unanimously.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 12:34 PM
December 04, 2009
County Council, December 3
Council meetings need to be more transparent!
Adams Run project deferred again and Kiawah Project approvedWarwick Jones
Yesterday’s meetings of the Finance Committee and Planning and Public Works Committee were long. It was not because of debate or discussion – indeed there was little of either. It was long executive sessions from which the public were excluded.
October 30, 2009
County Council, October 29
To sell a potential municipal solid waste disposal site
But may allow construction and demolition waste disposal at a privately owned and nearby siteWarwick Jones
We were somewhat confused by the action of Council last night. Meeting as the Planning and Public Works Committee, it agreed to put its 750-acre property at Adams Run on the market. The County purchased the property about 20 years ago with the intention of possibly using it as a site for a municipal solid waste landfill when the Bees Ferry Landfill was full. But it signaled that it may give approval for a 313-acre, privately-owned property that is nearby to be used for a private construction and demolition waste landfill.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 12:17 PM
October 16, 2009
County Council, October 15
Issues over the Greenbelt Plan
Accommodation tax allocations and objections to that for HollywoodWarwick Jones
The discussion on the County’s greenbelt program last night left a number of Council members confused. Chairman Pryor opined that when citizens voted for the half cent sales tax and the concomitant greenbelt program, they thought that they would have access to the greenbelt land. The greenbelt program has financed a large number of conservation easements which may preserve the land use but ownership remains unaltered and in most cases there is no provision for public access. Further, Council member Rawl found something wrong with conservation-oriented land trusts seeking funds from the Greenbelt Bank to purchase conservation easements from land owners, and that these trusts would be reimbursed by the owner for costs and other items. He also questioned the certainty that the trusts could continue to manage the conservation easements that the County had financed through the Greenbelt Bank.
October 02, 2009
County Council, October 2
Greenbelt Bank recommendation ignored, Hollywood to get $4.6 million for park
Moving to better plan for waste water services
There wasn’t too much on last night Finance Committee agenda. But it was a long meeting. A presentation by staff on waste water disposal took up much of the time. But the decision on a Greenbelt grant to the Town of Hollywood to buy an 8 acre property for a park was the most interesting and contentious item.
September 11, 2009
County Council, September 10
Consolidation of county–wide emergency dispatch service underway
Approves changes to Fee Ordinance relating to Building InspectionsWarwick Jones
Meeting as the Finance Committee, Council last night heard staff report on the planned transition schedule for Consolidated Dispatch, approved some changes in the Fee Ordinance, and accepted and dealt with some Federal Grants.
September 02, 2009
County Council, Sept 1
Johns Islanders confused
A choice between two unpalatable options?Warwick Jones
Some Johns Islanders were shaking their heads after last night’s Council meeting. It wasn’t in disbelief so much as confusion. The Islanders have battled hard and consistently to restrain development on the Island and preserve its rural ambience. But after last night’s meeting, it seems they may have lost some ground.
August 28, 2009
County Council, August 27
“Pitchfork plan” approved for Maybank Highway: Sea Island “Greenway” to be studied
Objectives defined for solid waste managementWarwick Jones
In common with Council members Schweers and McKeown, we were surprised to see “Johns Island Roads” on the Finance Committee meeting agenda without any supporting documentation. The documentation was given to Council Members just prior to the meeting and without time for proper consideration.
August 07, 2009
County Council, August 6
The shortest of meetings
Requests to apply for grants approvedWarwick Jones
It was the shortest Finance Committee meeting we have ever attended. On the opening of the session, Council member Thurmond moved that all 6 items remaining on the agenda, after the deferral of eminent domain issues relating to right-of-way for road widening, be approved. The items were mostly requests to apply for grants and hardly controversial
July 17, 2009
County Council, July 16
Council amends text of zoning ordinance
Legal outcome uncertain but height of Bees Ferry Landfill may prove mootWarwick Jones
Council last night passed the first reading of the proposed text amendments to its Zoning and Land Development Regulations. The changes were prompted by a revocation earlier this year by an Administrative Law judge of a permit issued by DHEC allowing the County to expand the height of the Bees Ferry Landfill to 168’. The revocation followed on the judge’s view that the County was breaching its own zoning regulations.
June 03, 2009
County Council, June 26
Budget for 2010 approved. Sheriff strongly critical
Staff to come up with waste disposal strategiesWarwick 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.
May 22, 2009
County Council May 21
No millage rate increase for 2010
But budget deliberations still incomplete
Deliberations over the 2010 budget were expected to be completed at last night’s Finance Committee meeting. But they weren’t and another special meeting is to be set for next Tuesday. Council decided that there would be no increase in the millage rates and set staff the task to make suggestions as to closing the small difference – about $700,000 - between projected spending and revenue.
May 15, 2009
County Council, May 14
Budget outline defined for 2010
Exasperation over Chisolm Road properties. And Ms. Condon’s Birthday
Council has completed the broad strokes in painting the 2010 budget. The Finance Committee began the deliberations over the funds that make up the County’s budget about 2 weeks ago and yesterday completed its task, at leasat for the General Fund. Staff will now fill in the details. The first reading of the budget ordinance is scheduled for May 21.
May 06, 2009
County Council, May 5
Higher taxes likely for next year
Deliberations to continue
After yesterday’s special Finance Committee meeting, it’s probably odds-on that property owners will be facing higher property taxes next year. It won’t be because of an increase in millage rates or assessed values. It will just be the need to make up the shortfall expected next year from the Local Option Sales Tax (LOST). In the past, the sales tax has been used to pay part of the annual tax liability of property owners. But County staff estimate that in Fiscal 2010, the County’s entitlement to the LOST will be down $10.5 million from the previous year.
May 01, 2009
County Council April 30
A tax increase in 2010 or not?
Long deliberations over other minor matters
The Finance Committee's agenda suggested a long session. Deliberations over some minor issues ensured that it was. So when it came to the most important item, an overview of the 2010 Budget, most members were showing signs of fatigue - levity and irritation. An indication as to whether County residents will face a higher tax payout in 2010 will be given at the Council meeting on Tuesday
April 22, 2009
County Council, April 21
Distribution of Accommodation Tax revenues still unresolved
Those to the Colleges for sport arenas should be eliminatedWarwick Jones
Council last night whipped through the agenda and approved all the items from an earlier Finance Committee meeting. And then it came to the Accommodation Tax budget. With revenues projected well down in Fiscal 2010, Council had to make some hard decisions. Who was going to suffer cuts in distributions? After an hour or so of discussion, there was only modest progress. Frustration showed on the faces of Council members and Council member Rawl admonished Council for not adhering to the agreement reached at the Finance Committee meeting. Council member Condon came up eventually with a motion that Council could agree to. Thankfully, it saved us a long meeting, but Council was still a long way from a resolution.
April 03, 2009
County Council, April 2
Cut backs looming in allocation of Accommodation Tax funds
Dog days for Animal Society. Property reassessment deferred for a year
Financial woes pervaded last night’s Finance Committee meeting. A shortfall in collection of the Accommodation Tax forced Council to look again at its distribution for 2009 and to take steps to reduce expectations for 2010. And the Charleston Animal Society had to put its tail between it legs and make do with less than what it was asking, despite the worthiness of its cause. And then because of the depth of the recession and the weakness of property markets, the Committee voted to delay the property reassessment planned for next year. A reassessment is made every 5 years and is the basis for property tax determination. And then there was the admonition by a member of Representative Clyburn’s staff who suggested that the County be more aggressive in seeking a share of the $35 million earmark for the Representative’s district.
March 26, 2009
County Council, March 25
Inconclusive meeting on incinerator issue
If attendees were looking to a final decision on whether to renew the incinerator contract, they were disappointed. Council met at a special Finance Committee meeting yesterday to consider the matter. Almost immediately after the meeting started, the Committee went into executive session where it remained for the better part of an hour and a half. There after, the Committee approved a motion by Council member Condon that the County adopts the recommendation of its consultant to move to achieving a 40% recycling goal, and for staff to study the options available to the County. From the Chairman’s earlier comments, these options would include the disposal of waste at sites in Dorchester and Berkeley Counties.
March 13, 2009
County Council, March 12
Consultant recommends closure of incinerator
Final decision to be made in 2 weeksWarwick Jones
It was a long and at times, an acrimonious session. Broadly, the issue was to how deal with future waste disposal. But more specifically, it was whether to close the incinerator in North Charleston. The principal of the consultant firm retained by the County, Mitch Kessler, told Council that it had a number of options. The consultant’s recommendation, based only on economics, was to close the incinerator, boost the capture of recyclables from the solid waste, and transport waste to another county when the Bees Ferry site was filled. And this would be in about 12 years, it estimated. But Mr. Kessler emphatically told Council that his assessment did not take into account the environmental impact or community and political considerations.
February 26, 2009
County Council, February 26, 2009
A very tough year coming up
But not for CARTA!
The County Administrator told the Finance Committee tonight that the state was planning to cut its contribution to the County next fiscal year by 42%. This follows on a significant cut this year. The reduction in State funds and other revenue forced the County over the last 2 months to cut $7.5 million from the original Fiscal 2009 budget. The reduction in State funds for Fiscal 2010 amounts to $7.8 million. Apart from sucking wind, there was no reaction from Council members. But we are sure that Council members will be doing some heavy pondering in the coming weeks.
February 13, 2009
County Council, February 12
Mayor Riley seeks to accelerate project in anticipation of “stimulus funds”
CARTA “shocks” CouncilWarwick Jones
Wih some of the Council members decked in formal wear and clearly a function to attend, last night’s Finance Committee meeting promised to be short. It was, though there were some interesting items.
January 30, 2009
County Council, January 29
Deadline for decision on County incinerator
Obligation of applicants for Board and Commission positions to be redefined
“And Council member McKeown can pay for the hire of the College of Charleston’s stadium!” Council member Rawl jokingly quipped at the close of last night’s meeting of the Finance Committee. He was of course alluding to the large number of citizens expected to attend the Finance Committee meeting on March 12 when the consultant to the County is scheduled to present its report on the options available for future waste disposal. The date is critical as the County has to give notice to the operator of the County incinerator as to whether its contract will be extended.
January 09, 2009
County Council, January 8
Targeted budget cut of $7.5 million achieved for FY2009 – but is it enough?
Party lines split over election of Chair and Vice ChairWarwick Jones
The most important item on yesterday’s agenda was the unfinished business of 2008. - spending cuts to balance the Fiscal Year 2009 budget. Council achieved its objective but there were warnings that more surgery may be necessary and the excisions deeper.
December 12, 2008
County Council, December 11
Times get tougher!
More cuts to budgets of the General Fund and Accommodation Tax
It was a long agenda before County Council last night. Meeting as the Finance Committee, it considered issues over the budget and the proposed allocation from the Accommodations Tax. And then allied to these were the Functional Review reports and closure of a County office in Ravenel.
November 14, 2008
County Council, November 13
Preparing for the worst
Credit crisis pressures liquidity as well as the budgetWarwick Jones
The County started taking steps to balance its fiscal 2009 budget some months ago. At that time it was largely higher than expected fuel prices and a decline in fee and permit income that were causing problems. But now the County has been caught up in the world-wide credit squeeze. Cost cutting has become more urgent.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:21 AM
October 17, 2008
County Council, October 16, 2008
Another traffic study for Johns Island
Approval for Comprehensive Plan but not for Compensation StudyWarwick Jones
Some Johns Island residents are getting irate. How many times do they have to defend the encroachment of development on the island? Most thought the proposal for a Cross Island Parkway to more easily link Kiawah and Seabrook Island developments to the City of Charleston was dead. However, Council member Thurmond has no intention of letting it die despite Council’s lack of enthusiasm for its resuscitation.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:42 AM
October 03, 2008
County Council, October 2
County rejects City’s plan for Maybank/River Road intersection
Is a compromise possible?Warwick Jones It was clear from the beginning of the yesterday's Finance Committe meeting – the City of Charleston would have a hard time selling its plan for the River Road/ Maybank Highway intersection. Council member Thurmond wanted to kill the plan immediately but other members of Council at least wanted to hear the City out. They heard the City’s plan, and then they killed it.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 12:44 PM
September 12, 2008
County Council, September 11
Council struggles with ways to balance the budget
Not happy with cuts for DEODAS, or charging for municipal offendersWarwick Jones
It has not been easy for staff. They were tasked by Council to find ways to cut $3 million out of costs so the County could balance its 2009 budget. The trouble has not been finding ways to cut costs. It has been getting Council to agree to the cuts. And indeed, Council member Schweers voiced his concern about Council’s reluctance to accept staff recommendations.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 12:54 PM
August 15, 2008
County Council, August 14
Budget crunch – hard decision on taxes and spending
Questions need to be asked on Accommodation Fee fundingWarwick Jones
It didn’t need a crystal ball to forecast a necessary tightening of the Council’s budget. The decline in building activity over the last year is cutting fee revenue, and higher than anticipated fuel and other costs are boosting expenditures. This has forced the County to make adjustments to the current fiscal year’s budget. But according to the 5 year projections made by staff of revenues and spending for the General Fund, major adjustments will be necessary over the next few years.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 02:42 PM
July 25, 2008
County Council, July 24
Salad days for Clerk of Council
Issues on Procurement Policy and Accommodation Fee fundsWarwick Jones
There would probably be little disagreement with the opinion that the highlight of yesterday’s Council Meetings was the short video at the beginning. Chairman Scott gave no inkling of the video contents. But the reaction, predictably, was surprise. The video was a commercial for Duke Mayonnaise which featured no less than Ms. Beverly Craven, Clerk of Council. Ms. Craven has served Council for many years, sitting figuratively and literally at the right hand side of the Council Chairmen. Amiable and permanently in good humor, she is a sort of den mother for Council members. She would have been our first choice for "mom” in an “American apple pie” commercial. Seems Duke Mayonnaise sort of agrees. Ms. Craven received a strong ovation and gave us the broadest of smiles.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 02:59 PM
June 27, 2008
County Council, June 26
Issue on choice of projects for sales tax allocations
Request for State to address issue of safety on Johns Island roadsWarwick Jones
There was little on the agenda for yesterday’s Finance Committee that seemed contentious. But Council Member Thurmond took exception to the fiscal 2009 annual allocations for road and drainage work financed by the half cent sales tax. He did not object to the spending but questioned as to how the specific projects were chosen.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:48 AM
June 25, 2008
County Council, June 24
Public gives “thumbs down” on incinerator!
County has some hard decisions to make on solid waste disposalWarwick Jones
A month or so ago, Council members probably felt very satisfied with their plans for the County’s waste disposal. They would close the North Charleston incinerator in 2010 and divert the waste, previously incinerated, to the Bees Ferry dump. By refusing to take construction waste from contractors and developers, and by other measures, the life of the Bees Ferry dump could be extended to 20 years. And all of this would be achieved without a major increase in waste disposal charges.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 12:09 PM
June 13, 2008
County Council, June 12
Citizens speak out against proposed Johns Island Crossway
Public meeting next weekWarwick Jones
At a Finance Committee meeting last month, the proponents of a new expressway across Johns Island had their say. An expressway was needed to alleviate the traffic on the existing roads. Those working and living on Kiawah and Seabrook Island would be the main users. It also could be a toll road, they said.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 01:00 PM
May 30, 2008
County Council May 29, 2008
Johns Island Crossway up for consideration
Issues over HUD and Greenbelt grantsWarwick Jones
Yesterday’s Finance Committee meeting was much longer than it should have been. Some Council members "tilted at windmills", and at length. The meeting opened with a presentation by the consultant hired by the County on an expressway across Johns Island to alleviate traffic congestion on River Road and Maybank Highway. The project at this stage is merely a possibility. It was strongly promoted by Council member Thurmond who spoke a number of times about its virtue. There were clearly members of Council, and certainly amongst the citizens attending the meeting, who were skeptical of the plan.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:40 AM
May 16, 2008
County Council, May 15
Attempt to address rising health insurance costs
Too harsh a change?
Over the last few weeks, Council has been mulling over the fiscal 2009 budget. The tail end of last night’s Finance Committee meeting was devoted to budget matters with the proposed changes to benefits for retirees generating the most discussion. At issue were the entitlements and benefits for retirees and their spouses as it related to medical insurance. Staff recommended to Council that the qualification for entitlement be tightened and the benefit period for surviving spouses be cut dramatically.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:37 AM
May 02, 2008
County Council, May 1
Staff presents a balanced budget, and no tax increase for FY2009
Look out for FY 2010 though!Warwick Jones
Staff has had its first crack at constructing the fiscal year 2009 budget. The results were presented to the Finance Committee last night, and understandably, it was pleased. For the General Fund, staff projected a balanced budget of $172.1 million, down $1 million or 0.6% from FY 2008 million. In achieving a balanced budget, staff had been mindful of maintaining quality services and including a cost of living adjustment (COLA) of 2.5%. Importantly there was no call for higher property taxes.
April 11, 2008
County Council, April 10
Issue over judicial staff wages
Discussion on underground wiring for CountyWarwick Jones
There was lots of discussion at yesterday's meeting, but little action. Council meeting as the Finance Committee heard presentations from SCE&G on underground power lines, and from the staff on bonding relating to trucks using secondary roads. Earlier, when meeting as the Planning/Public Works Committee, Council heard from the Berkeley Charleston Dorchester Council of Governments (BCDCOG) in relation to a waste water plan.
March 29, 2008
County Council, March 27
Updating the County’s Comprehensive Plan under way
Urban Growth Boundary unlikely to be movedWarwick Jones
The Comprehensive Plan is the official document that sets forth Charleston County’s goals, policies and guidelines intended to direct the present and future physical, social, and economic development within the unincorporated county.
There was little of interest in discussions at the Finance Committee meeting last Thursday. There were a number of appointments to boards and commissions, a quarterly report from the internal auditor and a policy determination to help fund beach renourishment in the County. In relation to the latter, a fund would be formed using the proceeds of the Accommodation Fee. Money from this fund would be provided to municipalities on a match basis, but the size of the match would be determined on a “case by case” basis. That was it!
March 14, 2008
County Council, February 13
A traffic study for City’s proposal for Maybank Highway
City has an effective veto power over developmentWarwick Jones
Resolution of the issue between the City and County to widen Maybank Highway may be months away. Indeed, it is possible there will be no resolution. At the last meeting of County Council, staff was instructed to meet with that of the City and the DOT to attempt a compromise between the two plans. As instructed, staff met but there was no compromise. However, there was an agreement that a detailed traffic study was necessary to draw a proper conclusion.
February 29, 2008
County Council, February 28
Widening of Maybank Highway – Is a compromise possible?
Parking fees to rise in County’s downtown garagesWarwick Jones
One wonders how it happened. Here was the City squaring off against the County in regards to changes along Maybank Highway. Change had been planned for some years and indeed voters in a referendum had signaled their approval of the County’s plans. But the changes planned were within the City of Charleston. Its views were very different. Why wasn’t there cooperation between the County and the City in shaping the proposed change?
February 14, 2008
County Council, February 14
Will help fund beach renourishment at Wild Dunes but with conditions
A balanced budget for fiscal 2008 despite lower-than-projected revenueWarwick Jones
The provision of funds for beach renourishment on the Isle of Palms (IOP) was the major item on tonight’s Finance Committee meeting. The Committee approved a grant of $900,000 from the Accommodation Fee Fund to help a beach renourishment project. But the approval came with conditions. The residents of the Wild Dunes Community must agree to provide $6.1 million of the $9.9 million estimated cost, and that a request be made that the Community make some provision for parking and access to the beach by the public. Should the cost of the renourishment fall short of the estimate, the County was to be the first reimbursed.
February 06, 2008
County Council, February 5
Administrator’s contract extended
Council stretches definition of “tourist-related” in latest grantWarwick Jones
Council meetings are usually brief, yesterday’s was no exception. Most issues are decided at the Finance Committee on the Thursday before. But two items not on the agenda of the last Committee meeting precipitated a special meeting yesterday. The items were the retention of the County Administrator and an application by the St Andrews Parks and Playgrounds for funds to buy a property in West Ashley.
February 01, 2008
County Council, January 31
Reflections on changing the form of County Government
A DNA lab for the County? Unqualified audit opinion for Fiscal 2007Warwick Jones
We learned at lot at yesterday’s Finance Committee meeting. Council was not considering new ordinances but hearing presentations that relate to possible future initiatives. A member of the faculty of USC’s Institute of Public Service and Policy Research spoke of the different forms of local government which were possible in SC and open to Charleston County. A spokesman for the Sheriffs Department told of the need for a DNA testing laboratory and a representative of the Low County Housing Trust spoke of the non profit’s success in providing “affordable housing”.
January 18, 2008
County Council, January 17
Decision on future land fill, and waste disposal. SPCA gets half a bone
Unhappiness about Roadwise programWarwick Jones
It didn’t take much time to decide. Staff gave a short presentation on the County’s options regarding future land fill and waste disposal, and made its recommendation. And after some discussion and no dissent, Council chose Option 1 - to continue using the Bees Ferry land fill to dispose of waste and to develop another land full site on Highway 17 S to receive building material waste beginning about 2022. Resource recovery (incineration) of trash would cease after 2010. The County would also discontinue taking trash and other materials from “private” sources.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 12:11 PM
December 14, 2007
County Council, December 13
Mayor Riley taken to task by County
Town of James Island takes issue with charges. Stiff penalties to retrieve stray petsWarwick Jones
The Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District sought by the City of Charleston ostensibly was the issue. The City needed the approval of Council to use property taxes collected in the TIF district – the land made available following the relocation of the ramp to the Cooper River Bridge – to fund infrastructure. It was not the first TIF district created by the City and the County, and we thought the creation would breeze through Council. It didn’t. The issue was deferred from an earlier Council meeting. It was passed at yesterday’s Finance Committee meeting. But there were strong words from some Council members.
November 30, 2007
County Council, November 29
Council mute on Long Savannah annexation
Raises Diversity Goal for Hiring and ProcurementWarwick Jones
Those of us expecting some discussion of the annexation of the Long Savannah development by the City of Charleston were disappointed. There was none. We know that some Council members were upset by the City’s action and the breach of the unwritten agreement with the County not to annex on the rural side of the Urban Growth Boundary. But as a staff member said, what can the County do? There was no legal impediment to the annexation. Council, meeting as the Finance Committee broke for a long executive session over a number of matters. Possibly it also discussed the annexation.
November 16, 2007
County Council, November 15
Green light for some big projects
Mulling contributions for beach re-nourishmentWarwick Jones
Council gave the final nod for some big projects yesterday. Meeting as the Finance Committee, it approved contracts for construction of the new jail, an upgrade in the revenue and billing system, and repairs for the blighted Judicial Center. It also instructed staff to devise a policy to allow the use of Accommodation Fees for beach re-nourishment.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 12:13 PM
November 04, 2007
County Council, November 1
Rural greenbelt grants approved
$100,000 grant for marketing effort by the “Museum Mile”Warwick Jones
As we anticipated, the Finance Committee approved the rural grants determined by the Greenbelt Bank at its meeting last month. The grants totaled $5.38 million. Coupled with those made in the first round of applications, the Greenbelt Bank has now approved about $16 million in rural grants. The grants are being financed through the half-cent sales tax. As reported some time ago, the County is to make a bond issue to facilitate the process and not wait for an accumulation of sales tax funds. Interest and amortization of the bonds will come from the sales tax. Of the bond proceeds, $60 million will be used to fund both rural and urban grants. Rural grants will be allocated 70 % or $42 million of the $60 million. After allowing for the latest round of grants, about $26 million remains available for distribution.
October 12, 2007
County Council, October 12
County to consolidate emergency dispatch services
Concern that City of Charleston will not sign onWarwick Jones
Meeting as the Finance Committee, Council last night agreed to move forward to consolidate dispatch services in the County. The feasibility study of the plan, to integrate the dispatch of EMS, fire and police response to emergency calls was completed earlier this year. Council last night agreed to fund the consolidation and pay total running costs after 2014.
September 28, 2007
County Council, September 27, 2007
Road wise projects move further along
Request for $60 million from State Infrastructure BankWarwick Jones
Discussion over Roadwise initial bond projects took up most of yesterday’s meetings. Council, meeting as the Planning and Public Works Committee, listened to presentations by Roadwise staff on proposals for four of the projects approved in the half-cent sales tax referendum. Design and engineering studies have been completed. Approval for the construction and right way phases were being sought. The projects to be discussed were;
September 19, 2007
County Council, September 18
Council to stop annual distributions to charities
But may attempt to “find a better way”Warwick Jones
The annual giving to charities by the County Council will stop after the distribution this fiscal year. The distribution to “Outside Agencies” has been made for more than 20 years but in the last 2 years has been frequently criticized – that some recipients were not properly qualified and that individual Council members should not choose the recipients. Last year, Council adopted tighter conditions for the process. But these were not enough to stem the criticism, particularly from the two new Council members. Council voted last night, 6 to 3, to end the practice with only Council members Darby, Pryor and Inabinett opposed to the cessation.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 02:16 PM
September 18, 2007
County Planning Commission, September 17
Work on new Comprehensive Plan for County begins
Final plan could take more than a year to completeWarwick Jones
State law obliges counties to prepare a full update of their Comprehensive Plans every 10 years. The first Comprehensive Plan (CP) prepared by Charleston County was completed in 1999. A new plan is required by 2009. To meet State requirements, the County earlier this year retained consultants, at a cost of $250,000 to prepare the new plan. Mr. Dan Pennick, head of Planning for the County said it would take 12 to 14 months to complete and should be ready before the 2009 deadline.
September 05, 2007
County Council, September 4
Approves final distribution amounts to charities
But some change possible in evaluation processWarwick Jones
Council decided the final figures for this fiscal year’s distribution from the General Fund to charities, and from Accommodation Fees to entities generating tourist related revenues. In our view, there were no surprises. Council members had already indicated the recipients and the proposed amount. Last night’s meeting brought about only minor changes.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 12:53 PM
August 29, 2007
County Council, August 28
Should Council distribute funds to charities?
Despite changes made last year, Council still is splitWarwick Jones
Should Council distribute tax payer’s funds to charities? If so, how should the charities be chosen? These questions generated much debate last year. And despite some tightening of the application and allocation procedures, the questions are still being asked. A discussion on the issues is scheduled for the Council meeting on September 18. But we won’t hold our breath in anticipation of a final resolution.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 12:37 PM
August 08, 2007
County Council, August 7
Harmony Hill approval still stands
Strong opposition to any change in Council Chairman positionWarwick Jones
The purchase of the 430 acre Harmony Hall property and the appropriate form of government for the County were the major items up for discussion at yesterday‘s Finance Committee meeting. Predictably, there was lots of talk, but not much action. The decision to allow the Parks and Recreation Commission (PRC) to purchase the Harmony Hall property for $10 million was allowed to stand. And despite opposition to any proposal to change the present nature of the County’s government, it was agreed to allow an expert address the Council at some future date as to the merits of the different forms of government.
July 25, 2007
County Council, July 24
Council approves all of the PRC’s proposed acquisitions
But not the conditions requested by the Long Savannah developerWarwick Jones
The agenda was long. In the words of the County Administrator, it was the most “intense” in his experience. And looking at the audience, it was obvious something important was at issue. Mayor Riley was there with an entourage from the City and which included Council member Evans. State Representative Stavrinakis was also there as were many members of the public. Together, they more than filled the Committee room.
June 20, 2007
County Council, June 19
Council to take the money for Mark Clark extension
State should pick up any cost over-runWarwick Jones
Council voted to proceed with the agreements with the SC Department of Transport (DOT) and the State Infrastructure Bank (SIB). Last week, the Finance Committee considered the agreements but some members were daunted by the liability the County would endure if there were a considerable cost overrun. Discussion with State legislators and the promise that the State would pick up the overrun, comforted the majority of Council members and only two, Council members Schweers and Inabinett voted against the agreements last night.
June 15, 2007
County Council, June 14
Liability over Mark Clark extension daunts some members
Final decision likely on Tuesday. Some issues on a greenbelt projectWarwick Jones
We’re getting close to the wire. The issue of extending the Mark Clark Expressway fianlly should be decided at the Council meeting on Tuesday. To be fair, the extension of the expressway is not the issue, it is the liability that accompanies it. It would seem that if the County does not assume this liability, which is open ended, the extension becomes moot. The voting at yesterday’s Finance Committee meeting gave no indication as to what the final decision might be with the 8 members present evenly split. Council member McKeown was absent but full attendance of members at the next Council meeting should ensure a decision.
June 01, 2007
County Council, May 31
County to PRC - Drop dead!
How real is the issue over the PRC’s independence?Warwick Jones
It is no secret that there is a conflict between the County and the Parks and Recreation Commission (PRC). But the battles have been fought in executive sessions of both bodies and little has been made public. So we confess to not knowing all the facts. But from what we do know, it seems the issue that divides the bodies – the independence of the PRC - may have grown out of proportion. Resolution may have been possible with a meeting of the bodies rather than letters between their respective attorneys.
May 23, 2007
County Council, May 22
Is Council bending too far to avoid millage increases?
Potential conflict between Council and PRCWarwick Jones
There were some tense moments in yesterday's special meeting of the Finance Committee. They were generated in the final shaping of the fiscal 2008 budget. The amount of a specific item was never a large issue. It was the broader implications, in particular, how far should Council go to avoid a millage increase? In the minds of some, Council it was going too far.
May 16, 2007
County Council, May 15
General Fund Budget put to bed, CARTA’s request rejected
Issues with oversight of PRC and temporary housing of jail inmatesWarwick Jones
It was a long evening. It began about four o'clock with a special meeting of the Finance Committee. It then moved to a public hearing on Contributions to Outside Agencies, and finally to a Council Meeting at 8 pm. The General Fund budget for fiscal 2008 was put to bed, though not tightly tucked in, and CARTA’s request for extra funds rejected. Spending on temporary facilities to house those unable to be placed in the crowded jail got approval, though not without debate. And Council moved to resolve as to who really was in charge of the Parks and Recreation Commission. But the issue of improving Hutt and Abram roads was left to fester.
May 11, 2007
County Council, May 10
No closure on some major items
CARTA returns to the troughWarwick Jones
There was no closure on the important items before the Finance Committee yesterday evening. In most cases, the Committee decided to defer final decisions until the Council meeting on Tuesday. Two of the important items were related to the proposed 2008 budget. Others related to the Parks and Recreation Commission, and to a road project.
April 27, 2007
County Council April 26
Budget process underway
Small increase in millage rate seems likelyWarwick Jones
Deliberations over the fiscal 2008 budget are underway. The financial problems confronting the County have been described in previous reports. The solutions have yet to be determined. Council met yesterday as the Finance Committee to hear staff proposals for some of the funds, but discussion was deferred to allow Council members time for consideration.
April 13, 2007
County Council, April 12
Uniform scale of charges to municipalities for collecting fees
Some minor amendments to Greenbelt Bank ordinanceWarwick Jones
There was little of import before the Finance Committee at yesterday’s meeting. Council agreed to a uniform fee schedule when acting on behalf of municipalities in collecting building license and user fees. It also agreed that some minor amendments to the Greenbelt Belt Ordinance and operating procedures, and to extend an arrangement with Folly Beach for use of a County Sheriff’s officer,
March 30, 2007
County Council, March 29, 2007
Chairman declares assumption of a tax increase is premature!
Progress on diversityWarwick Jones
It was another lean meeting. Staff presented their quarterly progress report on diversity, Council agreed to look into video conferencing as an aid to cutting costs, and Council danced around whether there would be a tax increase.
March 23, 2007
County Council, March 22
Costs go higher and higher
Can the County avoid a millage increase?Warwick Jones
As Chairman Scott said at the start of the workshop last week, the presentations were not part of the budget discussion. They were essentially a background. But even as such, Council members could hardly have been encouraged. It seems highly likely that in response to rising costs, County property taxes will need to be raised albeit by a modest amount. At yesterday's workshop, the Chairman again declared his opposition to any increase in millage rates. His voice may not be the only one raised in opposition. But the opponents of an increase will be hard pressed to come up with an alternative for financing necessary capital improvements.
March 21, 2007
County Council, March 20
CHATS presentation does little to resolve issue of I-526 extension
Council agrees to seek change in sales tax ordinance
If the presentation by the staff of CHATS was expected to settle the issue of extending the Mark Clark then it failed. The presentation highlighted some of the gains and losses in terms of traffic flow along the roads on and servicing Johns Island. But the spokesmen refused to be drawn into any conclusion as to whether the extension should be built. A random check amongst attendees indicated that most were as confused as this writer.
March 16, 2007
County Council, March 15
Tax burden to be cut further for property owners?
But millage increase possible this yearWarwick Jones
Homeowners in South Carolina are already set for a break on property taxes. They could have another within a few years. Last year, the State voted to introduce a 1% sales tax, beginning June 1, to fund education spending. The sales tax replaces that part of the annual property tax levied by the County and allocated for education. However, the property tax burden was removed only for owner-occupied dwellings. Commercial and rental properties would continue to be taxed as in the past.
March 02, 2007
County Council, March 2
Charitable Contributions debated again
Mark Clark extension back on agenda for March 22Warwick Jones
We thought the issue was closed. It had been well discussed by Council, sometimes heatedly, at a number of meetings last year. But Council member Thurmond, new to Council this year, was not happy about the County’s policy of distributing funds to “Outside Agencies”. In fiscal 2007, the County had budgeted for distributions of about $315,000. He stated that it was not right for the Council to be giving away the public’s money. He had no issue with any of the recipients or with charitable giving. But it was not the County’s job to support charities. He noted that in 2004, the private sector gave $24 billion to charities. Did Government need to get into the business of giving as well, he inferred? He added that the County was presently in a tight financial position and may need to raise millage rates. How could we raise rates and continue to give away taxpayers money?
February 22, 2007
County Council, February 22
County to take over management of municipal elections?
Votes to continue “intern” programWarwick Jones
There was little of contention or great import before the meeting of the Finance Committee today. The Town of Hollywood asked the County to take over management of its elections; the Committee approved $60,000 for an intern program, and agreed to defer discussion on the County’s compensation philosophy.
February 07, 2007
County Council, February 6
Moves ahead to recover fees on credit card payments of taxes
Final appointments to GAB and TABWarwick Jones
There was nothing much arising from last night’s meeting to add to that of the Finance Committee meeting on Thursday. The first reading was given to an ordinance to introduce a fee on taxes collected “through electronic media including but not limited to the acceptances of charge cards and debit cards via the internet ( collectively and along with other forms of electronic payment) “
February 02, 2007
County Council, February 1
A fee to be imposed on credit card payments for property taxes
Tax break for some boat owners?Warwick Jones
First the bad news! If you expect to pay property taxes by credit card in future, think twice. You are about to be charged a fee. And the good news. If you own a boat and can claim it as a second home under the IRS definition, you may be allowed a tax break.
January 19, 2007
County Council, January 18
Administrator to sign for longer term
Other appointments; hearing on Mark Clark extension in February
Warwick JonesDespite the siren call of a husky Harley Davidson languishing in a garage and lusting for full throttle over open roads, Mack Canterbury will likely succumb to pressure from Council to serve longer. Hired as an interim Administrator for the County, he will be offered a 2 year contract. We don't have the details for we confess to leaving the Finance Committee meeting before the members returned from an executive session. But we do know that he has earned strong applause from Council members since his appointment early last year and we suspect some would have used strong-arm tactics if necessary to keep him at the post.
January 10, 2007
County Council, January 9
New Chairman and Vice Chairman
To confront some major issues this yearWarwick Jones
The first meeting for the New Year was predictable. With the Republicans in the majority, Council members Scott and Bostic were appointed Chairman and Vice Chairman respectively. In terms of service, they are also the two most senior members of Council. There also were two new members of Council, Schweers and Thurmond, both Republicans. They won the seats previously held by Council members Wallace and Stavrinakis. Neither ran again for Council with Dr Wallace retiring and Mr. Stavrinakis running for and securing a seat in the State Legislature.
December 15, 2006
County Council, December 14
Approves contract for health care of jail inmates
CARTA's 5 year plan, question of funding bus replacement after 2011Warwick Jones
It was a lean meeting of the Finance Committee with little at issue, which is probably just as well as only 5 council members were present. But it was still a quorum and sufficient to deal with the few items on the agenda.
December 06, 2006
County Council Meeting December 5
Moves to help preserve communities north of Mount Pleasant
A tough easement issue, a new hotel for DowntownWarwick Jones
Council last night took a step towards better preserving the communities on the eastern side of Highway 17 and north of the Isle of Palms Connector. It did this essentially by agreeing to an amendment to the Mount Pleasant Overlay, a zoning ordinance that relates to the unincorporated area north of Mount Pleasant. The changes follow recommendations by the Highway 17 North Task Force and which were endorsed by the Town of Mount Pleasant.
November 17, 2006
County Council Meeting November 16
A fractious meeting
Last meeting for the ChairmanWarwick Jones
There was something troubling about last night's meeting. It was the undeserved humiliation of the County Attorney Mr. Joe Dawson as the Council discussed his remuneration and worth. It was not that Mr. Dawson was doing a bad job. No, all agreed he had done an excellent job. Yes, he had worked according to a contract drawn up by the County. But he is paid too much and his remuneration needs to be cut, at least that was the implication of what was before Council. The issue generated a heated discussion but in the final vote, the move for change was defeated.
November 10, 2006
County Council November 9
Auditors find some minor theft
And report favorably on jail inmate health care services
Last night's meeting was essentially about criminals - the Internal Auditor noted theft in his report for the 3 month period to November 2, and the Criminal Justice Institute reported on its audit of the inmate health care services at the County Jail.
October 13, 2006
County Council, October 12
New jail to cost over $100 million, property taxes likely to rise
Success on the Eastside, Board of Conservation Bank chosenWarwick Jones
There wasn't as much discussion on the new jail as the waiting TV camera teams expected. A PowerPoint presentation had been prepared by staff, but it was never given. Council agreed with Council member Bostic that much of the information was already public knowledge and there was no point in re hashing it. But the handout for the presentation showed that the estimated cost of the new jail was now $101 million, more than 30% over the previous estimate of $76 million. And most likely, property taxes will need to increase to finance it.
October 04, 2006
County Council Meeting October 3
Compliments for Council members Darby and Pryor
Approval for intersection, drainage, and bikeway projectsWarwick Jones
As far as dealing with the formal agenda, it was all over in a matter of minutes. Council approved all the matters that had previously been considered and voted on by the Finance Committee last Thursday. The remarks of interest were made at the closing of the meeting and related to the efforts of Council members Darby and Pryor to eliminate drug dealing on the Eastside.
October 02, 2006
Shrimp 'n Grits
Please! Please! Not Another Pericles!Lee Walton
Of all the things needed in Charleston County, the absolute last thing is for voters to be duped by Mayor J. Pericles Riley and his Palter and Chatter cronies into creating another parallel imperial reign, or, more likely, a subservient puppet poltroon handpicked by Pericles to govern. Ever since the Justice Department won out and forced single-member districts upon County government, the editorial staff and behind the scenes owners of the Palter and Chatter have been pitching a "hissy fit" to put their own chosen disciple in charge of County Council. They just can't stand the thought of nine equally powerful council members, elected by the citizens of nine separate districts, governing the affairs of Charleston County. To the editors of the Palter and Chatter, this must be just one short step from total anarchy.
September 29, 2006
County Council September 28
OJT stays, County-wide election of Council Chairman mulled
Vote on Conservation Bank board members deferredWarwick Jones The issue of an "on the job training" (OJT) provision in road contracts financed by the half cent sales tax should now be laid to rest. Council member Mc Keown sought to raise the issue again yesterday. He asked that the OJT provision be applied only to those contracts for which there were matching Federal funds and that funds marked to finance OJT should be taken from the Federal match. His motion looked as though it was going to die from lack of a second, but Council member Bostic stepped up and seconded the motion to allow more discussion. But after the discussion, he withdrew his support and the motion really did die.
September 20, 2006
County Council September 19
Proposed "on job training" in road work projects not fully understood
Should it be such an issue?Warwick Jones
If it weren't for the last minute addition of On the Job Training (OJT) to the agenda, there would have been nothing worthy of reporting flowing from last night's meeting. Council member McKeown was troubled at last week's Finance Committee meeting by the talk of $6.5 million being directed to OJT from half-cent sales tax funds spent on road works. He sought to reopen the discussion and Council unanimously agreed to.
September 15, 2006
County Council Meeting - September 14
Town of James Island will be billed for law enforcement services
Sheriff Cannon pushes again for consolidationWarwick Jones
It was one of the shortest agendas that we have seen for a meeting of the Finance Committee. The only matter of importance was the issue as to what should be charged by the County for providing law-enforcement services to municipalities, and in particular, for the new Town of James island. The issue had been discussed at the previous meeting of the Committee. But because of its importance, a decision had been deferred to allow more time for consideration. Council, meeting as the Finance Committee, voted to continue providing the present level of servicing until the end of this fiscal year, i.e. to June 2007. Thereafter, the new town would be asked to pay for all law-enforcement services. At least that was our understanding. But like others we were confused.
September 06, 2006
County Council Meeting September 5, 2006
Issue over law enforcement charge to Town of James Island
A higher diversity Goal? Some welcome road repairsWarwick Jones
What should the County charge if it provides services to the newly formed town of James island? Council, meeting as the Finance Committee, had few issues with the new policy for Services to Municipalities drawn up by Staff until it came to Law Enforcement. After some heated exchanges between Chairman Stavrinakis and Sheriff Cannon, Council decided to mull over the proposal for law enforcement but voted to accept the other proposals.
August 23, 2006
County Council August 22, 2006
Treading lightly over voting for Outside Agency contributions
But P&C still finds faultWarwick Jones
The issue over contributions to Outside Agencies (charities) was pretty well wrapped up at the Finance Committee meeting last week. All that remained was to finalize the new policy and amend the list of recipients in the light of the new policy. Council did this last night but some Council members decided to recuse themselves on some votes because of their connection to the charities.
August 18, 2006
County Council Meeting August 17
Policy on Outside Agency contributions defined
Process may be too onerous for small groupsWarwick Jones
Hopefully, the issue of Outside Agency contributions has now been resolved. Meeting as the Finance Committee, the Council approved a new policy last night. It will apply to all contributions in fiscal 2008 but have limited application for the current fiscal year.
July 24, 2006
Shrimp 'n Grits
OBITUARY NOTICE Charleston County Council IntegrityLee Walton
Council's Integrity entered into eternal rest on the evening of July 18, 2006, in Charleston County Council Chambers after a valiant, albeit fatal, battle against broken promises and a complete collapse of personal courage. Integrity's untimely demise resulted from a truculent assault by Council Chairman Leon Stabyourbackus and his accomplice, The Machine's Colleen Condon, as they intimidated and cajoled the other seven Council members to approve an additional annual payment of $1.1 million to CARTA for the next six years.
July 19, 2006
County Council Meeting July 18
Agrees to take over CARTA debt obligation
18% sales- tax cap to apply only over long termWarwick Jones
As we expected, the County will take on the burden of CARTA's debt. However, it will not need to tack on $6 million to the planned bond issue for transportation and greenbelts. To fund the next payment that is due to CARTA's bankers of $1.1 million, it will draw on funds that already have been budgeted for transportation from the sales tax but which have not been used. Although Council committed to making the remaining payments on CARTA's debt, there was no decision as from where they will be drawn, except that they will be derived from the half-cent sales tax.
July 14, 2006
County Council Meeting July 13
To take over CARTA's debt burden?
Bond issue for Transportation to be raised by $6 millionWarwick Jones
It's not signed and sealed yet. But most likely on Tuesday night, County Council will take an important step to pull out CARTA from under its debt burden. And it will do this by tacking on $6 million to the transportation bond issue that voters will be asked to approve in a referendum at the end of this year.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 05:28 PM
June 16, 2006
County Council June 15
Council uneasily decides on interim administrator
A glance at needs of James Island townshipWarwick Jones
Clearly, there were divisions amongst Council members at last night's meeting of the Finance Committee. At issue was the appointment of an interim Administrator. Some members thought that Staff, under the guidance of Deputy Chief Administrator Keith Bustraan, was capable of managing the County, but others thought that Mr. Mack Canterbury, who retired from the County three years or so ago, should be appointed. Ultimately, the committee voted to begin negotiations with Mr. Canterbury.
June 09, 2006
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.
June 07, 2006
County Council June 6
Still no closure on Outside Agencies
Oversight role of TAB endorsedWarwick Jones
The issue of contributions to Outside Agencies refuses to die. The Finance Committee at its meeting last Thursday agreed to defer the allocations to Outside Agencies until policy was better defined within the next few months. Last night, Council's vote was equally split as to accepting the Finance Committee's recommendation. Consequently, the recommendation to defer was not adopted. Council will meet again on Thursday to take up the issue once more. The only agreement that presently exists is that $312,000 will be distributed to Outside Agencies in fiscal 2007.
June 02, 2006
County Council, June 1
Issues with Outside Agencies and the Post & Courier
Greenbelts, bonding and the RMCWarwick Jones
Discussion of Outside Agencies dominated last night's session of the Finance Committee. Before the discussion got underway, Council member Bostic moved that a vote should be deferred for some months, and that in the meantime Council should define a policy for contributions to Outside Agencies. This it agreed to do. But there was considerable debate before the vote was taken and it spilled into wider issues such as "single member districts", and the reporting of the Post & Courier.
May 25, 2006
County Council - "In flux" or doing its job?
We take issue with the P&C, again!Warwick Jones
Today's front-page headline in the Post and Courier was "County Council in flux". The tenor of the critical story that followed was that Council is divided on many issues, some of these have racial overtones, staff is particularly sensitive to criticism, and some are thinking of leaving. And all of this followed the introduction of single member district voting.
May 17, 2006
County Council May 16
Will continue to provide funds for charities
No extra funding for CARTAWarwick Jones
There were two major issues before Council last night - Outside Agency contributions and the Sales tax budget, or more particular, the funding of CARTA. The special meeting of the Finance Committee that was called to consider Outside Agencies, ground along for more than hour as Council members rearranged figures, to find funds not only for Outside Agencies, but also for other items. The discussion over the Sales Tax budget was short with total acceptance of the Finance Committees recommendation, that CARTA receive no extra funding but its financial needs be reviewed within a few months.
May 12, 2006
County Council May 11
Sympathy, but no extra cash for CARTA
Non-profits may go empty handedWarwick Jones
There were three important issues before the Finance Committee yesterday evening - CARTA's request for extra financing from sales tax funds, Outside Agency distributions, and proposed major changes to zoning regulations. The Committee may have had teary eyes in dealing with CARTA' woes but it was hard nosed in its decision - no extra funding. And the same applied to Outside Agencies - there may be no funding for any of the non-profits but if there is, qualifications may be tightened. And as for the new planning regulations, they were adopted with the exception of those that were contentious. Consideration of these was deferred.
April 28, 2006
County Council April 27
Budget discussions get short shrift
Progress on diversity goalsWarwick Jones
Council may attempt to do the right thing. But sometimes things get out of perspective. Last night, members deliberated for a very long time on the right action in constructing some minor roads. They hoped to satisfy all the sparring constituents. And then after hearing these items and others, they suffered some long presentations on diversity, crammed with detail beyond that which was needed. In consequence, the evening proved long. Council members and the audience were weary when the final and most important items on the agenda came up for discussion - the 2007 Capital Improvement Plan and more items relating to the 2007 Fiscal Budget. These received swift hearings and there was little discussion of either.
April 19, 2006
County Council, April 18
Non-profit groups plea for funds
Not enough to satisfy allWarwick Jones
The public hearings were the only things of interest at last night's Council meeting. The first hearing was on the distribution to Outside Agencies. It took more than 2 hours and saw a procession of applicants making their plea for funding. The allocation to Outside Agencies generates a substantial pilgrimage each year to the Council before it meets to divvy up a pile of funds for noble causes. The monies come from the general fund and from an allocation from the Accommodation tax. The distribution from the latter is confined to entities and activities that are essentially tourist related.
April 13, 2006
County Council, April 13
Higher rating will lead to $0.5 million interest cost savings
Savings on future bond issues likelyWarwick Jones
There was nothing on today's agenda of note. The Finance Committee meeting ended after only a few minutes. But there was some interesting news. Standard and Poors has given the County an AAA rating for the purposes of the $65 million bond issue that is planned. This is a higher rating than the County received when it last issued bonds. The previous rating was AA+. The staff estimates that the improved rating will lead to savings of about $0.5 million over the 20-year life of the bond.
April 05, 2006
County Council April 4
Hiring of Financial Consultant raises question
An uneventful meetingWarwick Jones
Closing remarks by Council members took almost as much time as dealing with the agenda at last night's meeting. Indeed there was little of issue on the agenda and every item passed with a unanimous vote. Items, most of which were considered at last week's Finance Committee meeting, included a grant of $2.3 million for the new SPCA facility at North Charleston, tightening of the wording relating to the County's Diversity policy, zoning cases and the hiring of a financial consultant.
March 31, 2006
County Council March 30
To grant SPCA $2.3 million to help build new facility
Ire over State's attitude to Juvenile Detention ServicesWarwick Jones
It was a lean agenda before the Finance Committee yesterday. Unfortunately we were unable to cover all of the proceedings. Council met for an executive session before the two last items. A need to attend a meeting elsewhere (a presentation by the SCDOT on the proposed Port and access road) forced us to depart before Council worked through the agenda.
March 22, 2006
County Council Meeting March 21
Mayor Summey takes issue with Council
Zoning and land revision plannedWarwick Jones
There are some things that go on in Council meetings that we don't understand. Take last night, for instance. Before Council was the award of contracts for engineering design of roads in the Roadwise program. The decision to make the awards has been before Council for some time. It has been held up on issues relating to minority participation. Chairman Stavrinakis suggested that a decision had been delayed too long. The "request for qualifications" resulted in submissions from about 20 firms. This number had been reduced to about 10 and further culled to about 3 firms, to bid for each of the projects under consideration. The evaluation had been made by a committee of Staff under a process mandated by both state and federal regulations.
March 17, 2006
County Council March 16
To patch up rift with TAB
Stormwater fee to be introduced, mid-year budget reviewWarwick Jones
The most interesting item on last night's agenda promised to be the "Transportation Plan". We and others thought there would be a spirited discussion about the role of Transportation Advisory Board (TAB) in forming the Comprehensive Transportation Plan. This did not occur. Before any discussion took place, the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of Council planned to meet with members of the TAB to sort out any possible differences. However, it was clear at last night's meeting that newspaper and other reports on the last TAB meeting had placed the County in unfavorable light. County Administrator, Roland Windham, apologized to Council for the remarks made by a member of Staff. Staff had not given the right advice to the TAB, he said.
March 03, 2006
County Council March 2,
Stalemate on letter to President Bush protesting forestland sales
But unanimous on letter to Corps on Port access roadWarwick Jones
The Chairman asked that Council members put aside political consideration. He wanted members, meeting as the Finance Committee to endorse a letter to President Bush protesting the sale of forest land in South Carolina and in particular, the Francis Marion Forest. Whether the council members put aside political considerations, we don't know. But the split of voting was 4 in support and 4 against with Republicans and Democrats on each side. The request will now go to Council on Tuesday night where most likely the vote will remain the same and the issue will die.
February 17, 2006
County Council February 16,
"We ain't goin' to shuffle no mo'"
Opposition to access roads and portWarwick Jones
The highlight of yesterday's special meeting of the Finance Committee was Council member Darby's emotional speech opposing the proposed container port in North Charleston and any of the access roads. His opposition reflected the attitude of his constituents and the fears of the very adverse impact that the port and roads would have on the surrounding neighborhoods. He noted that too often poor and African American neighborhoods bore the brunt of development. It was going to happen again with the port development. It was time to make a stand. Affecting a Gullah dialect, "we ain't going to shuffle no mo', he said.
February 08, 2006
County Council February 8
Back to drawing board on Port Access RoadWarwick Jones
Very much to the satisfaction of Council members Darby and Pryor, the SC Department of Transportation is going to have another look at its access road options relating to the proposed container port in North Charleston. The Council Chairman indicated at the Finance Committee meeting last week that he planned to speak to senior management of both the State Ports Authority and the SC Department of Transportation. He said at last night's meeting that he had a series of discussion with the respective heads and that "both were very cooperative". The SC DOT will withdraw its permit application for permission to use the proposed road designated 1c and will conduct another public hearing to consider suitable access.
February 03, 2006
County Council Meeting February 2
County deliberates on opposition to port access road
Auditors unqualified opinion on 2005 financial reportsWarwick Jones
Meeting as the Finance Committee, Council discussed the possible impact of an access road from the proposed container port in North Charleston to I 26, and the means to oppose the road. Council member Darby raised the issue at the meeting and spoke of the impact the road would have on the communities abutting the new port. The communities, essentially African American, fall largely in his electorate. He noted that the communities were split when I 26 was first built. He felt that the access road would have a similar adverse impact and was opposed to any of the access roads that had been studied by the Army Corps of Engineers. And he asked for Council's support to oppose them and by any means possible including Court action and seeking Federal help.
January 13, 2006
County Council Meeting January 12
Folly/Camp Road added to CTC Project Priority List
Disparity study, SPCA, and Saving Morris IslandWarwick Jones
The agenda for the first meeting of Council this year had no seriously divisive issues. Meeting firstly as the Planning/Public Works committee, Council added Folly/Camp Road to the Project Prioritization List of the Charleston County Transportation Committee (CTC). The list remains essentially the same as that at the time of the Sales tax referendum in November 2004 with the one addition. The addition amounts to $6 million and lifts the total of all projects to over $700 million. Download file
to see list.
December 16, 2005
County Council December 15
Bond issues approvedWarwick Jones, standing in for Shawn Keller who is on military duty
If it were not for the half hour break for an executive session, last night's Finance Committee meeting would have been short. There were some important items of the agenda, but all had been discussed in some measure previously and no disagreements were expected over their approval. Possibly the most important item was the issuance of bonds to finance road projects and green belt acquisitions. The bonds were referred to in the half-cent sales tax ordinance, and the interest and amortization will come from the sales-tax proceeds. Last night, the Committee was to approve an issue for $65 million of which $36 million will be for the Parks and Recreation Commission (PRC) and $29 million for the completion of the Palmetto Commerce Parkway -" acquisition and construction of a road way connecting Ashley Phosphate Road and the Palmetto Parkway through Spartan Boulevard.
December 02, 2005
County Council Meeting December 1
Righting an injustice
Public hearing on proposed Conservation BankWarwick Jones, standing in for Shawn Keller who is on military duty
There were not many spectators left at the close of yesterday's Finance Committee Meeting. Because of an executive session, the meeting began more than an hour late and time took a toll after a lengthy discussion about the proposed Conservation Bank. But the meeting had an electrifying ending. Council Member Darby, in a passionate speech, spoke of an injustice that had been dealt the County Attorney, Mr. Joe Dawson. He also requested that Mr Dawson's rate of remuneration be set at $160 an hour. Council member Darby had only recently learned on the injustice and judging from his manner, he was clearly incensed.
November 11, 2005
County Council November 10
Impact of Container Port Road to be scrutinized
Conservation League skeptical of Environmental Impact StudyWarwick Jones, standing in for Shawn Keller who is on military duty in Iraq
Issues relating to the access road from I-26 to the proposed container port in North Charleston received the most attention at last night's Finance Committee meeting. These issues have been around for some weeks and flowed from the decision to seek funding from the State Infrastructure Bank for the access road as well as the completion of I- 526. At earlier meetings of the Finance Committee and Council, Council members Darby and Pryor in particular expressed strong concern as to the fate of the communities through which the proposed road could pass. Council subsequently asked the Transportation Consultant to evaluate the impact of the road and "encouraged" the SC Department of Transportation to do the same.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 06:00 PM
October 28, 2005
County Council October 27
Committee approves formation of Conservation Bank
Mitigation efforts proposed for Mark Clark and Port RoadWarwick Jones, standing in for Shawn Keller who is on military duty in Iraq
The Finance Committee approved the formation of the Conservation Bank proposed by Council member Bostic. However, the Committee voted to hold back funding for the bank until the Comprehensive Green Belt Plan was completed. The approval, despite the caveat of funding, was a slap in the face of the recently formed Greenbelt Advisory Board (GAB). The GAB had asked Council to defer the issue because of a number of reasons. Essentially, its stated that a decision on its formation was premature. It should wait for the Greenbelt Plan and until the mechanism for the choice of greenbelt acquisitions and the disposal of sales tax funds had been worked out.
October 19, 2005
County Council October 18
County too tardy in shaping Diversity Policy
Some reservations about Infrastructure Bank submissionWarwick Jones, standing in for Shawn Keller who is on military duty in Iraq
There were two issues before the Special meeting of the Finance Committee yesterday. - a Diversity Policy for the County, and an application to the State Infrastructure Bank for financing to compete I-526 and the road linkage between the proposed container terminal in North Charleston and I-26. These were issues unresolved from the regular Finance Committee meeting of last week. Yesterday's meeting promised to be contentious and it was.
October 14, 2005
County Council October 13
Another meeting called to discuss Infrastructure Bank funds
Tardiness on Diversity Policy angering Council membersWarwick Jones, standing in for Shawn Keller who is on military duty in Iraq
An application to the State Infrastructure Bank (SIB) and "diversity" issues dominated discussion at last night's Finance Committee Meeting. And it was clear that some members were unhappy at the course of events.
September 30, 2005
County Council Meeting September 29
County to consider GPS for monitoring parolees, sex offenders and othersWarwick Jones, standing in for Shawn Keller who is on military duty in Iraq
The agenda for yesterday's Finance Meeting included a simple item, GPS monitoring - Discussion. But it was sufficient to draw two State senators to the meeting as well as a Charleston City Council member. The issue was whether the County should consider a GPS system to monitor the whereabouts of sex offenders, parolees, or others than carry court-imposed obligations. What prompted the inclusion of the item on this week's agenda we do not know, but from the discussion it could have been any one of three reasons -expediency with the new jail some 4 years or more from completion, cost savings, or compassion for some jail inmates.
September 16, 2005
County Council September 15
Emergency preparedness presentation deferred
Approval of Compensation Study Consultant. More on road constructionWarwick Jones, standing in for Shawn Keller who is on military duty in Iraq
The potential highlight of last night's Finance Committee meeting was an insight into the County's emergency preparedness. This was the last item on the agenda and no doubt had been inserted to ensure Council members and the public that the County was prepared for future emergencies - primarily hurricanes. And there is no prize for guessing what precipitated the need for this assurance. Unfortunately the insight was not to be. Because of the absence of some Council members and the pressing appointments of others, the presentation was deferred.
September 02, 2005
County Council Sep 1
SPCA gets a new home and North Charleston gets a good deal, probablyWarwick Jones, standing in for Shawn Keller who is on military duty in Iraq
Last night's Finance Committee meeting was short with no major issues up for discussion. The SPCA looks as though it has found a new home, Council member Colleen Condon made some appointments, and the Committee took care of some deficits that were carried over from Fiscal 2005.
August 21, 2005
Joey Douan's Council pay
Council member tells why he voted for its retentionHenry E. Darby, Councilman, Charleston County, District 4 4743 Ezekiel Avenue, North Charleston.
Several Democrats and perhaps some Republicans too, have questioned the wisdom of Councilman Pryor's and my voting in favor of keeping Joey Douan's salary in place. Knowing the history of Douan using the courts in resolving problems, a lawsuit would have been brought against Charleston County in reference to the aforementioned subject-matter. Councilman Pryor and I attempted to use economic logic in our final decision of the vote taken.
August 19, 2005
County Council August 18
County is doing a "superb" job
But M.A.P Commission recommends some major changesWarwick Jones, standing in for Shawn Keller who is on military duty in Iraq
The final report of the Charleston County Commission on Management, Accountability and Performance (M.A.P) was presented to the Finance Committee last night. In a presentation, the Chairman of the Commission, Dr Mark Hartley said that overall the County is doing a "superb" job. But there were a number of areas where, in the opinion of the Commission, some improvements could be made. All of these were contained in the 308-page report placed before Committee members last night.
County Council August 18
County to more seriously address diversity issuesWarwick Jones, standing in for Shawn Keller who is on military duty in Iraq
The most surprising thing about the new diversity initiatives before the Finance Committee last night was that they were necessary. It is not that a policy is unnecessary. It was just surprising that something kin to that considered last night was not already in place. In an exchange with a citizen who spoke before the Committee, Chairman Stavrinakis stated that the Council had already been beaten up on the issue and the members had beaten each other. In a way, this was a confession of the inadequacies of the past policy. However the County's Procurement Director noted that as far as a policy for "procurement" was concerned 43 of the 45 other counties in the State did not have a Minority Preference Program in place, though we presume they had diversity policies for Human Resources.
July 08, 2005
County Council Meeting July 7
Service District's plea rejected without discussion. Diversity issues on hiring moving to resolutionWarwick Jones, standing in for Shawn Keller who is on military duty in Iraq
The lead item on the agenda at yesterday's meetings promised some excitement. It was a proposal from the James Island Public Service District that sought a moratorium to the issue of all residential building permits for developments in excess of 3 units in the County. The moratorium should remain in effect until revenue from the recently imposed half-cent sales tax is available for transportation improvement and green space acquisition, it said. The request to Council noted amongst other things, the congestion on roads on James Island and elsewhere in the County, and the problems developing for the preservation of wetlands.
June 17, 2005
County Council Meeting June 16
Heated meeting on procurement and hiring policy of the County
Simmering issue with Town of Mount PleasantWarwick Jones, standing in for Shawn Keller who is on military duty in Iraq
It started with the discussion of a $3.6 million contact for road resurfacing. It ended with a call for executive session to discuss the County's policies on hiring and procurement. In between there were a series of very heated exchanges between Council members on the tardiness of the administration in formulating a policy and the lack of communication between Staff and members of the Council.
June 08, 2005
County Council Meeting June 7
Small issues, but tense meetingWarwick Jones, standing in for Shawn Keller who is on military duty in Iraq
In a sense, nothing of great import happened at yesterday's Council Meeting. The agenda was quite large but most were ordinances that already had their obligatory first or second readings. And then there were the appointments, most of which were straightforward, and subject to a simple vote. So, Council should breeze through the whole agenda and we would all be home early. Wrong - perhaps very wrong, if one waited to hear a comment on the "executive session" that was called at the end of the Council meeting. We didn't stay.
June 03, 2005
County Council June 2
Property reassessment notices going out shortly
Be prepared for the howls, Assessor warnsWarwick Jones, standing in for Shawn Keller who is on military duty in Iraq
Be prepared for the phone calls when property re-assessment notices are mailed out shortly, the County Assessor warned Council members at last evening's Finance Committee meeting. On average, properties in the County rose near 50% since the previous valuation but some areas sustained increases of over 80%. He stated that usually about 10% of re-assessments are challenged but the office hopes that the percentage is lower this time round because values did not rise as substantially as in the last assessment in 2001.
May 25, 2005
County Council Meeting May 24
Should employees on low wages get a higher COLA adjustment?
Confusion over contributions to Outside Agencies. Aquarium added to the listWarwick Jones, standing in for Shawn Keller who is on military duty in Iraq
They were not matters of great financial import but viewers may be interested in what was discussed at last night's Finance Committee Meeting.
First on the agenda was Cost of Living (COLA) increases for County Staff. Normally at this time each year, salaries and wages are adjusted upwards to reflect the impact of inflation over the last year. As measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for this region, the COLA increase was 3.3%, a ratio somewhat higher than the national average.
May 18, 2005
County Council Meeting May 17
What a difference a few days make
CARTA to receive an extra $1 million. Conservation Bank to go back to Finance Committee for considerationWarwick Jones, standing in for Shawn Keller who is on military duty in Iraq
As is usual, much of the agenda on last night's meeting received rubber stamp approval. After all, most of it had been considered and approved by the Finance Committee. What was surprising was the decision to raise the allocation of sales tax proceeds for Fiscal 2006 to CARTA. The Finance Committee at its meeting last week stated that it would keep the allocation to 18% of the sales tax proceeds, a ratio that it fixed in the 2002 referendum paper. Committee members last week expressed fear that many voters would be incensed if CARTA were to receive more than this allocation particularly as the inclusion of CARTA as a recipient of sales tax funds was contentious.
May 16, 2005
Half-Cent Sales Tax - An uncertain direction
Cause for ConcernWarwick Jones, Editor
There is no doubt that County Council and the Cities spent a lot of time convincing voters of the need for the half-cent sales tax. Observing County Council meetings over the last few weeks it is becoming obvious that Council should have spent more time dealing with how the tax was spent. There is cause for concern.
May 13, 2005
Charleston County May 12
Sales Tax budget approved for 2006
Spending on roads to accelerate, CARTA's request for larger allocation rejectedWarwick Jones, standing in for Shawn Keller who is on military duty in Iraq
The Finance Committee yesterday considered the proposed Fiscal 2006 budget for the half-cent sales tax. Collection of the tax did not begin until the beginning of this month but it will not be until the fiscal year beginning July 1 that the county actually receives the tax. The County expects to generate $35.16 million in revenue from the tax in the fiscal year and has allocated $22.5 million or 65% of the total for Transportation. A breakdown of the allocation can be seen by pressing here
May 11, 2005
County Council Meeting May 10
Finance Committee ponders some more over sales tax use
Concern over citizens' reactionWarwick Jones, standing in for Shawn Keller who is on military duty in Iraq
As anticipated, the County Administrator, Roland Windham made his presentation to the Finance Committee yesterday on the use of the sales tax proceeds. It really did not break any new ground. What the Committee was looking for was some guidance as to how much of the proceeds of the sales tax could be diverted to Public Works to fund projects already under consideration. Mr. Windham did not give a definitive answer nor was it his to give really. This was the responsibility of Mr. Joe Dawson the County Attorney. He stated at a meeting last week and again yesterday that in his opinion, virtually all the projects relating to roads and drainage - the major part of Public Works - would qualify for consideration
May 06, 2005
County Council - May 5
Finance Committee to consider using sales tax to free up funds
Will it be legal?Warwick Jones, standing in for Shawn Keller who is on military duty in Iraq
The Finance Committee is looking at a way to shift some public works funding to the half cent sales tax and free up funds for other purposes. The County Administrator Mr. Windham plans on making a presentation to the Committee next Tuesday as to the possibilities that are open to the Council. The possibility of shifting the funding was raised in budget sessions last week.
May 04, 2005
County Council Meeting May 3
Capital Improvement spending to jump over next 5 years,
Tax increase maybe avoidedWarwick Jones, standing in for Shawn Keller who is on military duty in Iraq
The Finance Committee met yesterday to consider the Fiscal year 2006 budget and the 5 year Capital Improvement plan. There was little of contention in the operating budget and it was duly passed by the Committee. But the 5 year Capital Improvement Plan was much discussed. The contention related largely to the new jail and to a lesser extent the changes planned to the County's Azalea complex. Together, these items would add $113 million to spending over the next 5 years with the new jail complex representing about $86 million. Total spending over the next 5 years including Azalea and the new jail is projected at about $142 million.
May 02, 2005
Strong outlook for Charleston Economy
Presentation by Economic Development Directors of County and Mount PleasantWarwick Jones, standing in for Shawn Keller who is on military duty in Iraq
Mr. Steven Dykes, Director of Economic Development for the County, was optimistic about the course of the Charleston economy this year and beyond when he made his presentation to County Council last week. He noted that 2004 was a record year and this year had the promise of being another record. Last year, records were broken in housing starts and sales, gross retail sales, airport activity, tourism and perhaps most importantly, capital investment.
April 29, 2005
County Council Meeting April 28
Could the new sales tax restrain property tax increases
Plan for Conservation Bank to be sent to G AB for considerationWarwick Jones, standing in for Shawn Keller who is on military duty in Iraq
It really wasn't on the Finance Committee agenda but it came up in discussion on the Fiscal year 2006 budget. Council member Scott suggested that consideration be given to shifting funding on some public works to the soon-to-be-collected half cent sales tax. He suggested that perhaps $4 million could be shifted but subsequent discussion suggested that even more might be possible. Property taxes amount to about $55 million for the County so the notional reduction on shifting $4 million would be about 8%.
April 15, 2005
County Council April 14
New members make stand on diversitySales tax administration in limbo Warwick Jones, standing in for Shawn Keller who is on military duty in Iraq
The matter before the Finance Committee of Council was the proposed structure of the administration of the new half-cent sales tax. However, the issue clearly became race. The discussion of the proposal was polite in form, but it grew intense in nature. Discussion ended when a vote was taken on " calling the question". Effectively, this meant that no agreement was made on the nature of the administration.
April 06, 2005
County Council Meeting - April 5
Citizens alarmed over proposed developments
Some 2000 housing units proposed for two projectsWarwick Jones, standing in for Shawn Keller who is on military duty in Iraq
Centex was surprised at the hostility expressed at Tuesday night's public hearing. After all, it made no secret of its plans and these had been developed after full discussion with Council and its staff. It had also attempted to keep residents of the area informed. But as Council member Darby stated after a stream of residents voiced their concerns, the company may have asked citizens their views but was it listening? Council Chairman Stavrinakas advised the Centex and the other developer to look again at their plans.
February 02, 2005
County Council Meeting, Februrary 1
County ponders move to control CARTAWarwick Jones, standing in for Shawn Keller who is on military duty in Iraq
We thought it might just have been the enthusiasm of new Council members. We also thought that their desire to more forcefully re-shape CARTA would succumb to the pressures of more seasoned members. Well, the Council did yield to the views of some of the longer standing members, but only to allow the Council Staff to more fully study the ramifications of what the Finance Committee proposed at its last meeting - that the County acquire full ownership and take over the running of CARTA.
December 17, 2004
County Council, December 16
Incentives for aircraft construction project approvedWarwick Jones, standing in for Shawn Keller who is on military duty in Iraq
The Finance Committee approved the financial incentives proposed by the County for the Vought Aircraft - Alenia Aeronautica joint venture that is planning a major investment in North Charleston. Plans of the JV have already been announced and they entail a facility that will manufacture and integrate the fuselage for the new Boeing 7E7 "Dreamliner" commercial aircraft. As noted by Charles Newton, the head of the JV, the investment is projected at $560 million and will be the largest single investment ever in the Charleston region and the second largest ever in the state. The JV and the partners will employ an estimated 645 persons with an annual payroll of $32.5 million.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 02:32 PM
October 20, 2004
County Council Meeting October 19
A Commission to be formed to oversee green space acquisition
Coastal Conservation League to oppose sales tax increase.Warwick Jones, standing in for Shawn Keller who is on military duty in Iraq
County Council took another small step forward in an attempt to win voter approval for the half cent sales tax. It agreed to set up a panel similar to the proposed Country Transport Commission (CTC), to guide and oversee proposals for spending in relation to green space. Is the move enough? We don't think so. Nor did the SC Coastal Conservation League.
October 15, 2004
Residents of Johns Island to fight subdivision
Tom Wise who covers Johns Island
Over 50 residents of Morris Acres and the surrounding Johns Island neighborhoods met on Thursday evening, Oct. 14, 2004, at the Berkley Electric Co-op building on Johns Island to voice their opposition to the densities proposed for the planned Brickman Farm subdivision. The subdivision will comprise 281 acres and will have its first reading before County Council on Oct. 19. Numerous fears were addressed as concerned residents contemplated increases in traffic, water runoff and possible groundwater pollution, destruction of natural habitat, possible annexation by the City of Charleston, and a general decline of their peaceful way of life they have enjoyed for years.
October 08, 2004
What Green Space? Parks Surrounded by Subdivisions?
267 Saint Margaret St.
Is it just me, or does anyone suspect that Charleston County's vision of the future looks a lot like James Island? With over a billion dollars to spend on new road construction, the pressure to develop rural areas will be intense. Imagine Johns Island, Wadmalaw, or Awendaw, with their brand new highways, and their 800 acre county parks (proudly promoted as "greenspace") surrounded by tens of thousands of acres of suburban development. And even these parks wouldn't be sacrosanct. Does anyone remember the plan to extend Highway 30 through James Island County Park? I can imagine the real estate ad now- "Come live in the beautiful, new Tea Farm Estates, just minutes from Wadmalaw County Park, and the new Sea Island Connector..."
October 06, 2004
County Council Meeting October 5
Public Hearing on Sales Tax
Coastal Conservation League still opposes sales taxWarwick Jones, standing in for Shawn Keller who is on military duty in Iraq
The SC Coastal Conservation League opposed the proposed sales tax at the public hearing last night. The League has been outspoken in its criticism of the tax, in particular the lack of accountability in relation to the spending of the proceeds. Mr Eric Meyer who represented the League at the meeting stated:
Posted by Warwick Jones at 08:19 PM
August 31, 2004
Johns Islanders organize to restrain waterline construction
Tom Wise who covers Johns Island
Johns Island residents, with the support of the Coastal Conservation League, have started a website to promote our petition to force St. Johns Water Company to call for a vote on whether or not to continue with plans for a proposed 30 inch waterline on Johns Island. (For more details on the waterline and why many Johns Island residents are opposed to it, see my July 28 posting to CharlestonWatch.com.)
Our new website is located at www.stopthewaterline.com, or clickhere
July 28, 2004
New water line threatens Johns Island rural ambience
Tom Wise who covers Johns Island
Concerned Johns Island residents sincerely appreciate the Editorial in the Post and Courier of July 26, 2004 regarding the proposed 30-inch waterline on Johns Island. The preservation of our rural way of life depends on the dissemination of the facts, and we applaud the effort on our behalf.
To better understand the controversy over the Johns Island waterline, I have done a bit of research on this issue, and I'd like to share with your readers some of the information that I have learned.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 03:48 PM
July 20, 2004
Support for restoring the original Urban Growth Boundary on Johns Island
Megan J. Terebus, Land Use Associate, South Carolina Coastal Conservation League PO Box 1765 Charleston
In respect to Mr Wise's report published today, it is important to remember that County Council twice voted in favor of restoring the original Urban Growth Boundary on Johns Island in response to Cindy Floyd's request. The application failed third reading because the fifth vote that Johns Islanders had counted on, AD Jordan, was absent from the meeting due to a family illness.
Charleston County Planning Commission Votes Against Application by Johns Islanders to Restore Urban Boundary
Tom Wise. who covers Johns Island issues
It was no real surprise to concerned Johns Island residents that the Charleston County Planning Commission voted 3 to 2 last night against recommending the Urban Boundary line on Johns Island be restored to its original position. The recommendation will go to the to County Council for consideration next month. Supporters of keeping Johns Island rural were noticeably absent at the meeting, as they expected this outcome and will show their full support when County Council is scheduled to here the application at 5:00, August 17, 2004.
July 14, 2004
County Planning Commission to consider reinstating urban growth line on Johns Island
Attention Johns Island Residents: Stop the Madness!
Please attend County Planning Commission Hearing on July 19
4355 River Rd.
The Charleston County Planning Commission will consider the most recent application to amend the Charleston County Comprehensive Plan at their next regular meeting, July 19, 2004. This amendment would reinstate the original Urban Growth Line that was established by County Council in 1999, reversing its decision to expand the boundary and open up 2500 more Johns Island acres to development and urban sprawl. For a map showing the original and expanded boundaries click
here (See my previous letter for more details)
July 12, 2004
Urgent need for poll watchers
Roy A De Haven
Board of Elections and Voter Registration of Charleston County
Over my past 25 years of active involvement in local and national politics the steady drumbeat has always sounded for more people to be trained as poll managers and to actually serve as poll managers on election days.
2004 has many local elections leading up to the Presidential Election in which 200,000 Charleston County voters will be allowed to cast a ballot. However, the Board of Elections & Voter Registration is short hundreds of poll workers who are the key to making sure the election process is fair.
July 09, 2004
County Council Public Hearing - July 8
Half-cent Sales Tax Increase and Property Tax Cap
Warning on wording of the referendumWarwick Jones, standing in for Shawn Keller who is on military duty
There was little new ground covered in the public hearings before the Charleston County Council on the ½ cent sales tax increase and the property tax cap. About half a dozen persons spoke on the sales tax referendum proposed by the county and all were in favor expect Mr. Joey Douan. Mr. Douan was responsible for initiating the successful action to undo the results of the last referendum. His speech was probably the most interesting, He stated that the governor had mandated that the wording in the referendum proposed for November be essentially that of the first. Yet, he noted, there were substantial differences.betwen the two. These he feared would be sufficient for another suit after the next referendum. We could be back here in 2 years confronting the same issues, he warned. Mr. Douan did not speak against the imposition of the tax and indeed stated that the county needed a public bus system. Considering his past opposition to the tax, it may be too much to read into this a newfound support for CARTA. He also expressed surprise that the County had not formed a citizens committee to help guide the county in implementing the sales tax or allocating the proceeds.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 01:18 PM
July 02, 2004
A wake up call for Johns Island
4355 River Road
Residents of Johns Island and Charleston County must unite to restrain the urban sprawl that is destroying the rural ambience of Johns Island. We need to show our support for the recent application submitted to the Charleston County Planning Department to amend Charleston County's Comprehensive Plan, reinstating the original Urban Growth Line on Johns Island to its original boundary, recommended by the Planning Commission and approved by County Council in 1999.
For a map showing the original and expanded boundaries go to here
A wake up call for Johns Island
4355 River Road
Residents of Johns Island and Charleston County must unite to restrain the urban sprawl that is destroying the rural ambience of Johns Island. We need to show our support for the recent application submitted to the Charleston County Planning Department to amend Charleston County's Comprehensive Plan, reinstating the original Urban Growth Line on Johns Island to its original boundary, recommended by the Planning Commission and approved by County Council in 1999.
For a map showing the original and expanded boundaries go to here
June 22, 2004
Voting irregularities in County election
4726 Churchill Ave
Where is the outcry? There was a glaring irregularity in voting in the last County Democratic primary. Voting machines were not programmed correctly in District 4 and the votes of some 40 people failed to register in split precincts, a fact noted by the Board of Elections. These votes could have been sufficient to swing the results for council candidates.
June 18, 2004
County Finance Committee Jun 17.
No surprises with Sales Tax and CARTA Budget approved. Reassessment cap decision deferred
We speak with Howard Chapman of CARTAWarwick Jones, standing in for Shawn Keller who is on military duty
With the CARTA 2005 budget, the Sales Tax referendum and the Reassessment cap on the Committee's agenda, we were prepared for an interesting meeting. Considering the TV crews present, others were obviously expecting some excitement. Well, it all was a bit of a yawn. The CARTA budget was accepted without discussion, so was the Sales Tax referendum. And a decision on the Reassessment cap was deferred.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 01:45 PM
June 17, 2004
More on CARTA - Summary of a discussion with Howard Chapman, executive director of CARTA
Warwick Jones, standing in for Shawn Keller who is on
Sales tax is vital to CARTA operations
Mr. Chapman acknowledges the importance of the Sales tax to the budget next year but adds the very continuation of CARTA depends on the sales tax being approved by voters in the referendum. And assuming it gets passed, there are some initiatives that are planned to improve service, though they will not be implemented before May next year
June 07, 2004
Some odd shapes among new County Council Districts
Submitted by The Editors
Have you seen the new County Council District maps? If you have, you are probably shaking your head as to how some of the boundaries were formed. For example, the area below Broad Street on the Peninsula is joined with Sullivan's Island and the Isle of Palms. Hullo, we thought, this looks very much like "gerrymandering"! We made some enquiries and although it indeed looks like "gerrymandering", there were reasons for the strange boundaries.
May 19, 2004
Arguably Unfair Voting Practice
Why is it that we persist in the expensive and arguably unfair voting process we have in Charleston County, City and South Carolina? Why don't we not adopt the preferential system that is used in most other western countries.
Presently, if there are more than 3 candidates in a race, there is a run-off election if no candidate wins 50% of more in the first poll. This system tends to favor the candidate with the most money, who is better placed to finance two elections. If there are 5 or 6 candidates, the run-off may be very unfair because the preferences of those who voted for the candidates that did not make the run-off are ignored.