By Emma Woodham, Staff Writer for Island Eye News
The Isle of Palms City Council met for its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 28. All members of council were present. Following the approval of last month’s minutes, Mayor Dick Cronin opened the floor for citizens’ comments.
He said that the Citadel Brigadier Foundation 5K Run/Walk has been recommended for Sept. 29 for a city-sponsored event. Suzanne Chisholm, a member of the Board of Directors of the Foundation, was present to answer questions. Cronin noted that the event has already been approved by the Public Safety Committee and all insurance requirements have been communicated. The event will take place on the beach at the Citadel beach house and will begin and end there. The Brigadier Foundation raises money for athletic scholarships at the Citadel, Chisholm explained. All members of the council were in favor of the city sponsoring the event. Bob Miller, a resident of Wild Dunes told Council that the growing coyote population is becoming an issue for many across the island and has prevented him from some of the outdoor activities he hoped to enjoy when he moved here. “Dozens of people in Wild Dunes say they won’t take walks anymore. We’re having to change our habits to coexist,” Miller said. Miller says that a group has formed in Wild Dunes and would like to join with the city. They hope to become more aggressive with trapping coyotes, and trapping season is coming up soon. Judy Gogle, another citizen concerned about the coyotes on the island, wants to stress a sense of urgency because the coyote mating season is also coming up. She is concerned that the animals will begin to multiply even further. Following the comments, the results of the recent audit of the City of Isle of Palms were presented by Melissa McKay and Chris Kerr of McKay Kiddy CPA.
The first report they reviewed covered the city’s financial statements. McKay stated that total assets for the city amount to $47 million, and that includes some unrestricted cash, some restricted cash, and some capital assets. Liabilities amounted to $24 million, and this brings the city to a net position of $24.7 million. McKay stated that a lot of discussion surrounded the Disaster Recovery Reserve. She noted that other cities’ reserves vary quite a bit, but she thinks that IOP is more prepared than others. Lastly, because the city has received federal funding recently, another audit will have to be conducted in the near future to ensure that the funds were used properly and that the city is in compliance with regulations. Councilmember Carol Rice asked that McKay Kiddy include a slideshow presentation in the review of next year’s audit to make some of the details a little clearer. Councilmember Sandy Ferencz also asked that the reports be presented to the council earlier than the day of the meeting next year, and Ms. McKay said that she would be happy to accommodate. Mayor Cronin reported on Ways & Means and noted that expenditures so far this year are less than they were at this time last year. There have been no significant changes in project activity, and the drainage project is underway, he added. In new business, Mayor Cronin added that there has been a recommendation from the Real Property committee to award a contract to Phillip Smith LLC for the Front Beach public restroom renovation. The city will move ahead without the support from Charleston County that they had been hoping to receive. All members of the council voted to award the contract except for Councilmember Jimmy Carroll. Approval to extend the existing contract with Lillilo Architecture to include construction administration of the boardwalk work was also brought before the council, and all members of the council approved except for Councilmember Carroll. A recommendation has been received from Public Safety to award a contract for parking kiosks in the front beach area to replace the existing one, and the motion carried unanimously. Mayor Cronin also proposed a budget change for the Phase II drainage work and noted that Councilmember Ferencz has done a lot of on-site work regarding this issue. All were in favor of the motion. A recommendation was made to replace the fire department’s Zodiac for $5,000 and it passed unanimously, but three council members voted against the recommendation to spend $5,000 to sponsor the 2018 Food & Wine Festival, which was approved. A recommendation was also made to sponsor the 2018 Dunlop Junior Tennis Championship, an event that the city has sponsored for many years, and the motion passed.
Councilmember Marty Bettelli reported on the Public Safety committee meeting, and noted that several property owners have been notified to remove encroachments from the right-ofway. Over 20 homeowners have not yet come into compliance. He also reported on the idea of banning balloons on the beach, and Fire Chief Graham researched and found this is covered in the city’s pollution ordinance. He hopes to raise awareness through the schools and through the city’s website. Parking spaces at the IOP Rec Center have been marked and numbered, which makes it easier to tell when a vehicle has been in the same space too long. Councilmember Bettelli also commended Chief Graham who recently traveled to Puerto Rico to aid with hurricane relief. Lastly, he noted that the city is still actively trying to trap coyotes. In her Public Works committee report, Councilmember Ferencz stated that she has heard a lot of positive comments from the citizens about how the city has been working to keep the ditches cleaner. She remarked that homeowners who have received SCDOT permits to run a ditch pipe beneath their driveway are responsible for cleaning out that pipe. The trash compactor behind the Dinghy is looking better, but Ferencz added that the city needs to work with the businesses to make sure that they are putting trash into the compactor. Councilmember Patrick Harrington presented the Personnel committee report stating that they interviewed several candidates for vacancy on the planning committee. Phillip Pounds was selected, and the council voted to approve the committee’s decision. An opening for a part-time animal control officer is still vacant, as well as a full-time parks and facilities position. Next, Harrington made a motion to recognize Councilmember Bettelli for his 20 years of service to the council. Reviewing the Real Property meeting was Councilmember Barb Bergwerf, noting that a citizen brought forward the need to dredge Hamlin Creek from the Jimmy Carroll marina to the Exchange Club. More will come on this issue soon, Bergwerf said. The emergency berm on the beach re-nourishment is done, and the biggest part of the project will begin within the next month or so. A suggestion was made to re-vegetate the dunes, and Bergwerf will look into this idea. Councilmember Ferencz mentioned that there have been some complaints about RVs parked at the marina and even saw some social media comments regarding the matter. Councilmember Bettelli announced that he spoke with Brian Berrigan at the marina who said that RVs are allowed to park at the marina for a fee during the off-season which is helpful because Wild Dunes does not allow RVs to be parked in driveways. Councilmember Ward asked whether or not Berrigan’s lease agreement allows that, and City Administrator Linda Tucker said she doesn’t think that anything prevents it. “From what I’ve observed over the years, during the holidays, residents who live in Wild Dunes have family members who come to town and they have nowhere to park. In the off-season, they allow a few of those to park,” Tucker said. Councilmember Ward asked that the lease be reviewed to see whether or not this is allowed. Tucker said that if the lease does prohibit this, it’s up to the city whether or not they should enforce it. Mayor Cronin presented the adoption of revised Charleston County Hazard Mitigation plan and to suspend the reading. All approved, and the motion passed unanimously. In closing, Councilmember Bettelli thanked the city for allowing him to serve for so many years, and he is so happy to see all the improvements that have been made to different areas around the island. He thanked Administrator Tucker for all the hard work that she does for the city, and he also thanked Mayor Cronin for his nine years of service. Mayor Cronin also thanked all the city staff. “We leave with a lot of admiration for what you do and look forward to seeing the city prosper well into the future,” Cronin said.