By Ryan Buckhannon for Island Eye News
I am pleased and honored to announce my candidacy for Isle of Palms City Council. I previously served on city council but decided to take some time off to focus on getting my triplet boys through high school and off to college. Now, that they all have started their first year of school, with one at the College of Charleston, one at the University of South Carolina and one at the Citadel, I feel that I can, again, work for the citizens of this community. My boys were born here and it gave my wife Sonya of 24 years and myself a unique perspective on “Island Life” with a family and how we adapted not only to raising triplet boys but how I adapted as a councilman to meet the needs of our community as we all grew together.
During my previous term on city council, I gained an understanding of the complexities of city government including its capabilities and limitations which will allow me to hit the ground running and start working on day one. While on the city council, I approached every budget session and spending allocation from the Dave Ramsey school of thought, if you didn’t have the money already saved for a purchase, it didn’t get purchased. I ended the city’s expensive practice of leasing vehicles. Leasing large vehicles ultimately cost the taxpayers more due to principle AND interest. Instead, I initiated a policy that would put money into a sinking fund for those large ticket items that we knew we had to replace. Not only did I create sinking funds for replacement vehicles, but for future expansion projects like the recreation center ballfields and lights. I was able to save all the money needed to replace both baseball fields and all the lights at the recreation center, WITHOUT BORROWING! These are just examples of a couple of sinking fund programs that I started that the city now has adopted as a policy. During this we were able to increase the City’s Fund Balance from $3.1 million to $8.5 million & increase the City’s Tourism Funds from $900 thousand to $4.3 million.
So, I believe in saving for future known expenses and unknown expenses. That is why I believe that we continually need to put money into our disaster savings account. As it has been said before, it’s not a matter of IF but WHEN we will be hit again by a natural disaster and we should be prepared when that time comes.
I believe that government transparency is paramount and using social media platforms are invaluable to our residents and visitors to get that information out. I have always pushed for the city to have more transparency and have an increased social media presence. They are getting there, but there is always room for improvement. As a small business owner, our social media platform is integral to our business and the same should be true for our city. During my term on the council not only were we able to improve our city’s web presence but pushed for our council meeting videos to be posted to the city’s page. I believe that we can go further and start to live stream all the city’s meetings and public hearings, this is something that could be done now. What good is a community if that community in which you live is a place you have a hard time calling home? There are many issues before us that will affect our community’s quality of life in the years to come. They include increased traffic congestion from an ever-growing Tri-county area, the resulting need to improve our island wide parking plan and the need to address our drainage problems along our roads and ditches are just a few. As a councilmember, I helped to draft and create the current parking plan, voted to limit the number of people in short-term rental houses and worked to facilitate the drainage project from 42nd Ave to 57th Ave. But more can be done. Quality of life issues is not only dealing with current and potential problems we face but finding ways to make those things we currently enjoy even better. As Chairman of the recreation center, I oversaw the expansion of our community center, a project that was brought in on time & on budget. I initiated the recreation center’s Fast Start sports programs for children 3-5 and the city’s dog park. As Chairman of the Public Safety committee, I initiated the change to the city ordinance to allow golf cart parking on the 25th, 23rd & 21st beach access paths. These are a few but more can be done. I don’t believe in kicking the can down the road when things need to be accomplished. It’s time to elect those who are ready to pull up their sleeves, get to work and make a difference.