By Katy Calloway for The Island Eye News
“It’s nice to see an involved audience,” proclaimed Mayor Carroll at the opening of the Feb. 26 City Council meeting. It was indeed a packed house as the Mayor prayed for guidance and wisdom. Roll was called, and minutes approved and adopted by all councilmembers present and accounted for.
Citizens comments saw the bulk of the night’s action, with Scott Pierce addressing Council with his concerns regarding fiscal transparency and suggestions about what could be done about it. His comments have been have been printed in this issue of the Island Eye News.
Barby Harrington’s comments explained the complex relationship between The IOP Exchange Club and the IOPCC. Her comments are also included in this issue of The Island Eye News.
Henry Haggerty took to the podium to express his upset with the flooding in the circle next to his property at Forest Trail and the impact of the development slated to begin in the adjacent area. Haggerty was followed by a Forest Trails neighbor, Jamie Zazella, also concerned about the drainage proposed for the pending development. She would like to see the permitting process slowed and drainage more carefully considered.
Margaret Mitchell, homeowner since 2000, is also concerned with drainage and submitted to Council photos of her grandchildren canoeing in the street over the Thanksgiving holiday, adding that, “This has been going on for years.”
Brian Enright and Judy Murray also spoke of flooding concerns.
Councilmember Ward gave the Ways and Means report stating that all revenues for FY19, are at 51% of budget, expenditures are at 44%. The General Fund balance is $630,218. Cash balances are $17,496,000. Ward referenced several budget workshops that have taken place over the past couple of months. The Committee has been looking specifically at the police department compensation and recommends that junior officiers receive an increase in pay in order to retain them after they complete training.
Mayor Carroll then proposed a 2.5% merit increase for the FY20 budget.
Councilmember Bell clarified that if the intent is to establish acceptable HR practice of midpoints, percentage against those midpoints, then he supports it. If the intent is “peanut butter spread”, those at the top get roughly 4 times the amount of money that those at the lower end of the pay scale receive, then he will dissent. Councilmember Moye agreed, as did Councilmember Ferencz adding that Council needs to be sure to look at all departments, not just police. The increase passed unanimously.
Mayor Carroll then proposed a 7% increase for certified police officers that have graduated from the Academy. Councilmember Buckhannon reminded Council that officer retention is not just an issue with IOP.
Other municipalities offer incentives, including sign on bonuses as well as pay increases.
Administrator Fragoso summed up the recommendations from Ways & Means:
- Keep salary range for noncertified officers at $39,263
- Certified starts at $42,000 range
- Non-certified officers, hired by police department, get increase after they complete academy and field training
- Current patrol officers and detectives with less than 10 yrs service get 1% increase for each year of service
- Current patrol officers and detectives with less than 10 yrs service by .5% per year of service
- Sworn officers with more than 10 yrs service get .25% increase for each year
- Estimated projected savings in FY19 budget due to vacancies is $128,222.
Impact of these adjustments to the FY19 budget is $43,484. The motion passed unanimously.
Councilmember Ward than asked to suspend rules of order to address item on the agenda regarding the Single Use Plastic Ban. Councilmember Smith described a recommended addition to the ordinance prohibiting extruded polystyrene foam products/containers and plastic straws and stirrers. The restriction exempts plastic cutlery, and food service wear made out of compostable and recyclable materials. Suggested changes will also prohibit condiment packets and plastic lids. A motion was made to delay the vote on the second reading and was approved unanimously.
Back to the agenda, discussion ensued around increasing numerous fees including stormwater fees, residential rental license fees, building permit fees and Comcast franchise fees.
Votes were mixed but ultimately all increases passed.
The Public Safety Committee continues discussing the pay-to-park project for Palm Blvd. and the public transit initiative. DOT has purchased vans to transport visitors and is working to identify park-and-ride locations in Mt. Pleasant. They hope to have the transit system up and running by late summer.
Coyote management is underway.
New traps have caught two coyotes and six raccoons.
Council then voted to award a contract to Motorola for a budgeted expense of $247,644.75 to replace portable and mobile police radios.
Councilmember Smith gave the Public Works Committee report, the highlight being the conclusion of the infrastructure for Phase II drainage project. Landscaping should be completed by May. Council voted unanimously to approve an expenditure, up to $25,000, for materials for the replacement of failed cross-line pipes along Ocean Blvd.
The topic of franchise agreements for beach vendors, including surf camps and lessons brought several questions from Councilmember Bell including what is the position of the City relative to Wild Dunes and relative to other parts of the beach?
Fragoso recommended that the questions be presented to the City’s attorney.
Councilmember Smith noted that the Recreation Committee has postponed discussion for a future meeting.
Councilmember Moye was elected Chair of the Personnel Committee at its meeting. His report included updates on the search for Chief of Police, City Administrator and Assistant for Public Works. A short list of qualified candidates and their resumes should be available by early March.
The Real Property Committee report was given by newly elected Chair, Councilmember Bell. The brief report included discussion of a timeline for the marina leasing process. The Committee expects the building assessment report of the Morgan Creek Grill “very soon.” An RFP for a commercial real estate consultant to guide the leasing process has gone out.
Several ordinances were up for second reading and were approved unanimously:
- 2019-01 to sell City owned property at 1100 Pavilion Dr.
- 2019-02,03 to recommend language changes to job responsibilities so that they are concurrent with language that was included in position solicitations.
Council then moved into Executive Session to receive legal advice related to franchise licenses. Following the session, a motion was made to approve surfing lessons within Wild Dunes. The motion passed with two dissenting votes from Jimmy Ward and Sandy Ferencz.
The next regular meeting of the IOP City Council is scheduled for Tuesday, March 26 at 6 p.m.