Isle Of Palms May Shrink Council By Two Seats

By Brian Sherman for The Island Eye News

If the residents of Isle of Palms agree that the size of their Council should be reduced by two, the city’s governing body will have to operate with an even number of members for two years. At their June 1 meeting, the three members of the Personnel Committee voted to recommend to the Council that a referendum on the change be placed on the Nov. 8, 2022, ballot. The Council is expected to consider the proposal at its regularly scheduled June and July meetings so the ordinance can be read twice and meet the Charleston County Board of Elections & Voter Registration’s August deadline to add the item to the ballot. If the binding referendum passes and the Council approves the results, the Council will be reduced from eight plus the mayor to six, plus the mayor over a two-year period. One seat will be eliminated at the end of the 2020 to 2024 term, and the other will go away following the 2022 to 2026 term. Under a 2021 proposal – which was rejected by the Council – the governing body would have been reduced through a combination of two- and four year terms. “State statute doesn’t allow for two-year terms, except when there is a change in the form of government or when a municipality is becoming incorporated,” City Administrator Desiree Fragoso told members of the Personnel Committee.

“We haven’t found a way to maintain the staggered terms and be compliant.” As a result, if the referendum passes, the Council will consist of eight members between January 2024 and January 2026. Council Member Jan Anderson reminded her fellow Personnel Committee members that five votes still will be necessary to pass an ordinance. “The one thing to keep in mind is when there are only eight Council members, the majority still stands at five,” Anderson said. 

The motion to send the proposal to the full Council passed with Personnel Committee Chair John Bogosian and Scott Pierce voting in the affirmative and Anderson abstaining. However, when Fragoso reminded Anderson that “every Council member must vote unless there’s a recusal,” Andersonchose to make the decision unanimous.

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