Letter To The Editor: Isle Of Palms Municipal Reform Overdue

To remain relevant and to meet changing circumstances every organization needs periodic reform.  Comparatively, the IOP City government has not undergone significant reform for decades.

The City of Isle of Palms was incorporated 65 years ago and is well beyond the need for organizational reform.  The changes brought on by transformative technology, development of a major resort destination, increased budgets and staff, the construction of the Connector, explosive growth in the Charleston area and specifically Mt. Pleasant, have all impacted our island.  To provide reform is to be better equipped to respond to these impactful changes. 

Recent reforms by the Council to help reduce the burden of meeting creep, is a great first start.  This will lessen the burden on staff and allow them more time to execute Council policies.  Thank goodness the time is past for Council to find it necessary to meet every other workday.  

The next priority of Council should be approval of a referendum to reduce the size of Council.  There is no need to fear this reform to our city government.  Regardless of the number of council members there will always be the need of a majority of members supporting a particular issue.  

If you are one to value statistics and seek worthwhile benchmarks to provide comparisons you need look no further than Charleston County.  The entire county has 9 elected members on council, representing a population 100 times that of the IOP.  By an objective comparison why would it be necessary for a town of 4,300 to have 9 elected officials?  Furthermore, of all 270 municipalities in the State only 15 have more than 7 members and as you would guess most of those are significantly larger than IOP.

For those who have concerns about a smaller number (7); remember that we have elections every two years and if we don’t like the direction of those in office they can be voted out.  If you look at the last several elections it is disheartening that so few incumbents chose to seek reelection.  While all of those served to make the island a better place I believe the antiquated structure is an unfortunate disincentive to continue to serve.  

Rest assured there is no conspiracy and no long term sustained voting group that hijacks Council policies. Past and present Council voting records will confirm this. These are independent, educated individuals that bring diverse experience and philosophical views that will always einsure robust debate and diverse perspectives, even if Council is reduced by 2 members.

Contrary to the phrase “if it isn’t broken why change” many past elected officials and staff that have served in the current environment recognize the need for reform.  Hopefully a majority of current members of Council agree and will support a referendum.  With the right structure and leadership, IOP cannot only achieve its goals faster and less costly, but address many missed opportunities to improve our island.

The conservative constituency of the IOP should take heart in the old saying: “Less government is the best government” and wholeheartedly support a reduction in council to 7 members.

Ted Kinghorn,

Isle Of Palms

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