By Jennifer Tuohy, Island Eye News Editor
While there was no formal discussion of the proposed parking plan at Isle of Palms’ October Ways and Means committee or City Council meetings, the topic did repeatedly pop up. It will be discussed in more detail at a special City Council meeting on Monday, Nov. 3, following the press time of this newspaper.
What was discernible from the few brief mentions prior to that date however, is that council was surprised by the feedback it received from the citizens at last month’s public hearing and that to address the various issues raised, sought legal advice in an Executive Session on Oct. 21. Making accommodations for residents in the parking plan is now a top priority of Council, and wheels have been set in motion to seek support at the legislative level for a state law that would allow every resident with a registered vehicle on the island to get a free parking permit. Passes for guests have not, so far, been discussed.
The main item actually on the agenda for the Oct. 28 council meeting was the presentation of the City’s 2014 financial audit.
Once again the Isle of Palms received an Unmodified Opinion from its financial auditors, the highest available, and accounting firm Greene Finney and Horton pronounced the City in strong financial condition as of June 30, 2014.
The General Fund Balance increased $151,000, with revenues totaling $8.7 million for 2014. The sources of those revenues are as follows:
• $4.3 million from property taxes
• $2.6 million in licenses and permits
• $629,000 from local option sales taxes
• $445,000 in parking revenues
• $328,000 in intergovernmental revenues/grants
• $409,000 for all other revenues
An $84,000 increase in local option sales tax from 2013 is a strong indicator of an improving local economy.
General Fund Expenditures rose by 9 percent from 2013, due to increase in general government of $97,000, Public Safety of $567,000 and recreation of $26,000. These increases were primarily due to the increase of wages and benefits and a performance based merit increase for employees, as well as the addition of 3 new firefighters and a 10 percent compensation adjustment for all firefighters.
The Enterprise Fund had an increase of $283,000, as total Marina Fund operating revenues increased approximately 4 percent due to increased lease income.
The Capital Projects Fund decreased by $66,000 but expenditures decreased by $1 million to $412,000. Current expenditures were due to the purchase of a generator for City Hall, fencing at Clark Ball field, three vehicles and a portion of a new garbage truck.
Accommodations tax revenue rose $291,000, a 5 to 10 percent growth. Hospitality tax revenues increased by $65,000, and the Beach Restoration Fund had no change in balance as no significant projects were conducted during fiscal year 2014.
Sea Horse Court sink hole
The ongoing issue of a pesky sink hole on Sea Horse Court was finally resolved. In a normal situation the City would pay for materials and Charleston County would pay for labor to fix a sink hole, but because this is a public road that is not owned by the County or SCDOT, the City has to pay for repairs.
Some extra money in the Capitol Projects Fund has been directed towards the project, and Council approved a motion to spend $4,634.86 to repair the road.
Work is being done to address the issue that currently, golf carts cannot legally be driven from one end of the island to the other, as they are not allowed on state roads.
Public Safety committee reported there had been some slower than usual response times from Charleston County EMS ambulance service. IOP Fire Chief Anne Graham explained she had been told that this is due to staffing and scheduling changes. Charleston County has switched all its personnel to 12 hour shifts, where previously some shifts had been 24 hours. The Chief has an agreement in place with Mount Pleasant Fire Department to dispatch a paramedic to a call if the IOP FD cannot get a verifiable ETA for a Charleston County ambulance. Improvements to handicap beach accessibility are progressing.
A $3,600 expenditure has been approved to use crushed shell to improve the 9th Avenue access. The 42nd avenue access is also being looked at for improved disability access, however currently the cost to improve that access is $95,000. The situation will be reviewed further.