By Brian Sherman, The Island Eye News Managing Editor
The Isle of Palms Council has voted to cancel this year’s Fourth of July fireworks show, redirecting an expenditure of approximately $35,000 to reward city employees for their exemplary performance during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
At a May 26 meeting, Council Member Jimmy Ward presented a motion to eliminate the show and distribute the money to city employees as a one-time bonus. After discussion, the Council changed the terminology to hazard pay – a suggestion presented by Council Member John Moye – and left it up to department heads and City Administrator Desiree Fragoso to determine how the money will be split up.
“All our employees have been doing an incredible, over-the-top job forever, since this COVID virus came in,” Mayor Jimmy Carroll commented. “We need to give them this money to say thank you for a job well done.”
Council Member Susan Smith pointed out that canceling the fireworks show and rewarding city employees both make sense.
“We don’t want to be encouraging crowds when possible. This isn’t the year for a variety of reasons, including the cost,” she commented. “And it’s a great message to send to city employees. They’ve been working hard under stressful conditions. This is a fantastic opportunity to show our support for them.”
Council Member Randy Bell suggested that the Fourth of July show and the hazard pay for employees shouldn’t be connected – that they be considered in separate motions. He later withdrew his motion because “it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere.”
The motion passed by a 9-0 vote.
At the same meeting, the Council voted to spend up to $4,500 for a drone for the Police Department, if the city fails to obtain a grant to purchase the equipment, and another $28,000 to upgrade the Fire Department’s radios.
The Council also approved a resolution encouraging residents and visitors to wear a face mask any time they are outside their home or place of lodging in any public setting where they might come into contact with people who are not part of their family.
An amendment to encourage people to wear face masks only when indoors, presented by Smith, was defeated by a 6-3 count.
“We look at this as an effort to do all we can to assure the safety of our residents and visitors,” Council Member Rusty Streetman commented.
“Given the governor’s orders, we can’t provide a mandate,” Moye added. “We’re not out of the woods yet. We’re still trying to do what we can to promote public health as best we can.”