By Blake Bunch
Col. David Shetna explained that, during this past summer, his unit came to the island for training in rebuilding infrastructure; a process which they do in similar communities throughout the state.
“One thing we couldn’t tell everybody in May when we were down here, was that we have recently been mobilized, and, in fact, we are going to Ft. Dix, New Jersey where we will be deploying to Iraq sometime before Christmas. The training value that we got out of our visit here has been greatly appreciated. “
Col. Shetna then presented Police Chief Buchannon and Fire Chief Graham with certificates expressing, “Appreciation for providing exceptional support during the 360th Civil Affairs Brigade and Civil Liaison Team’s annual training.” Col. Shetna thanked them for their support in objectively accomplishing their trades and objectives.
Col. Shetna then presented Mayor Cronin with a plaque from the 360th Civil Brigade Airborne recognizing the town’s support and, “for allowing four Humvees to run around for a couple days, as well as parking with no charge. The VFW took care of us, and everyone on the island was fantastic. ”
Mayor Cronin and both Chiefs graciously accepted the plaques of recognition.
Mr. David Phillips, auditor for the City of Isle of Palms, stated that the 2010 audit year-end financials are “really good.” The general fund increased $52,000, and the city’s net assets increased by about $377,000. The town has received a rating of “unqualified,” which is the best rating achievable.
In regards to revenues, Mr. Phillips said that property taxes have increased by about $61,000, but, there was a $207,000 decrease in business licenses and permits. He further informed council that there was a $13,000 decrease in local-option sales taxes, but a $32,000 increase in other revenues. The Capital Projects Fund spent approximately $450,000 on the completion of the Public Safety building whereas last year, nearly $6.2 million was spent on “punch list” items. The remaining balance is near $2.6 million, but there are a lot of projects that the town is looking at: the City Hall renovation, drainage improvements, and general capital needs.
Looking into Government wide financials, the town has total assets of $39.4 million, where 65% are capital assets and 32% are in cash and investments. The net assets are $19.4 million, and total expenses are $10.4 million. (The full report is available at City Hall.)
Council member Mike Loftus expressed his gratitude to Phillips for his hard work, as well as City Administrator Linda Luvvom Tucker and Debbie, because they have been “fabulous.”
Mayor Cronin informed Council that, as a city, FEMA will continue their community-rating system as class 7 status. This means there will be a continued 15% discount on flood insurance.
Resident John Palms of Waterway Island stated that he has been involved with fundraising for Spoleto Festival, USA, and in particular, dealing with venues. Furthermore, Mrs. Julia Forrester (Director of Development for Spoleto) said that Jeff Nuthall, their chamber music director, spent ten days on Isle of Palms after the festival ended, and now their producer would like to find a house beach-front for one of the conductors for a six week period. Essentially, the money which they are requesting from the City’s available ATAX funds ($15,000) for the support of Spoleto 2011 would go right back into the Isle of Palms.
Ways and Means Report
Mayor Cronin reported for Ways and Means, stating that expenditures are trending well, and general fund expenditures are now at 21% of the budget. Tourism funds, accommodations tax, and municipal accommodations tax has increased 19.1% since last year, and the hospitality tax increased by 12%. Mayor Cronin said that they did question the county as to when they were going to increase the redistribution of their accommodations tax, and their response was, “It’s too early to call yet for an increase.” In the city’s case, they are short $114,000 from last year. Mayor Cronin and the City Administrator testified in Columbia before the TRAC (Tax Re-Alignment Committee) dealing with tourism tax dollars. The result is that they are not going to recommend changing the use of funds and pulling money away from the Isle of Palms and other municipalities. In Columbia, however, they are still discussing handling the collection of municipal taxes and holding 1% for the state.
Mayor Cronin said they did pass a recommendation from the ATAX committee for $15,000 for the support of Spoleto Festival USA, 2011, and the motion was approved by Council. Council member Loftus expressed that this is “money well spent as an internal investment for the city.” However, Council member Brian Duffy objected, stating that,“Spoleto is wonderful, but with our budget, $15,000 is too much, so I vote against the $15,000.”
Public Safety Report
Council member Martin Bettelli stated that the Public Safety Committee had a request from the VFW to hold a turkey shoot with BB guns. “Even a BB gun is a firearm on Isle of Palms, so we asked them to re-send their request, work with the Police and Fire Chiefs, then come before Council,” said Bettelli. They also had a request to close Cross Lane on Saturday, October 30, from 1-7 p.m., and a request by the Charleston County running club for permission for a run to be held next fall. However, this run would conflict with the IOP Beach Run, and they denied the request.
In terms of the radio tower discussion, Administrator Linda Luvvom Tucker sent a request to Charleston County for some alternative other than the proposed radio tower. The Public Safety Building has the department and city working with engineers to complete work on the air conditioner, as well as work on further specifications. Bettelli said he talked to several people about the speed limit between 41st Ave. and the “back gate” at Wild Dunes on Palm Boulevard. He asked the Police Chief to go to the highway department and get their recommendation on a proper speed limit.
Departmental reports show that the IOPFD had a total of 86 calls in September, and 50 were EMS-involved. The Fire Inspector conducted 120 inspections, and found 271 violations. 53 pre-incident reports were filed using new instruments which the town purchased. Bettelli stated that a $2300 bicycle was stolen from a resident and was found for sale on Craigslist. This ultimately resulted in an arrest by the IOPPD. IOP telecommunication received 3,489 calls, of which 2,505 were Police, and 1,025 were service calls. 125 traffic stops produced 71 tickets and five noise violations.
Public Works report
Council member Brian Duffy reported that resident Tony van Buren, a commercial shell fisherman, expressed some concern because the state has been closing shellfish grounds behind the island. These closures have been increasing over the past two years, so he is very concerned. He has requested to come speak before Council, and should be present at the next meeting. The committee also discussed recycling, and how IOP has met the 40% goal that the county has set. Duffy also said that they have discussed the drainage project and it is ongoing, but currently they are slipping behind because they are waiting to hear back from the resort.
Council member Ryan Buckhannon said that Saturday’s Halloween Carnival would be held from 5 to 7 p.m., and that basketball try-outs are coming up, as well.
Council member Ralph Piening said that they have begun the process of making recommendations for members of boards and committees. They will complete the interview process in the next day or so, but would meet again the following week in the Public Safety building to finish up the entire process. Winners of the September Safety Sweepstakes Winners are: General Government – Laura McLellan; Public Works – Kim Tapley; Fire Department – Eric Bolan; and Police Department – Frank Fitzpatrick.
Real Property Report
Under citizen’s comments for the Real Property meeting, Council member Mike Loftus stated that resident Jim Rye suggested that the City consider work around 41st Ave., as well as putting a gateway to the marina. In the marina report, business has definitely turned around. The laundry facility is replacing the sauna, and they have looked into an aluminum gate, which was voted on and unanimously supported. Electric lines are being reviewed on the dock in order to get estimates. In regards to beach restoration, the application was submitted on October 6 to begin collecting permits for the project. Loftus said that they are waiting to hear back about an energy grant next Thursday. There was some discussion in regards to the extension of Tidal Wave’s lease. Dianne Oltorik made a recommendation to the City in that they should look into holding a farmer’s market, and Loftus made a motion that Council should look into the feasibility of this idea. The motion was approved.
“How do we go forward [with a farmers’ market]?” asked Mayor Cronin. “This is going to take a lot of discipline, involve vendor licenses, and be rather difficult to regulate.” He stated would like to speak with a subgroup of citizens with knowledge of these matters. “Maybe those individuals would like to come forward and help Council. This is a great site, but parking is still an issue,” said Cronin.
1. First reading, Ordinance 2010-13, An Ordinance to Amend Title 7 Ch. 3, Prohibiting the Abandonment of Personal Property on the Beach. First Reading granted.
2. First Reading, Ordinance 2010-14, an Ordinance to Amend Title 7 Ch. 3B, Providing to New Article C Pertained to Abandoned Watercraft. First Reading granted. Council member Mike Loftus then motioned that this amendment be hashed-out more directly under the realm of the public safety committee. The motion was approved.
The next Isle of Palms Council meeting will be held on November 16, 2010, at 7 p.m. at City Hall, located at 1207 Palm Boulevard. For more info, visit www.iop.net.