Op-Ed: Flashback

Flashback to the Island Eyes News August 25, 2017 (https://islandeyenews.com/op-ed-isle-of-palms-marina-accounting/) where I authored an editorial explaining the IOP Marina finances. As a voting community we were faced with a pending November referendum to rehabilitate this city owned asset. The rest is history, as the referendum was soundly defeated and a new Council sworn in.

Fast forward to 2022. Most residents are unaware that our City Council is in discussion with the current IOP Marina operator, Brian Berrigan, and a likely future new operator. In my opinion, and for what it is worth I believe reassignment of both the Marina Joint Ventures and Marina Outpost leases represent a positive step forward. Mr. Berrigan’s leases provide him with the sole discretion to sell his remaining twenty-three (23) years of lease. The city should not unreasonably withhold such rights. However, keep in mind the city is under no obligation to renegotiate lease terms in advance of any decision on reassignment. This issue should be simple. Vote yes or no as to lease assignments “as written and currently binding”. To date we have no public engagement, no public discussion, and no public input on the assignment of this very public asset. Why? Council opted to go into closed session and renegotiate the leases. The only discernable advantage or written commitment is to resolve a parking debate between Islander71 and Mr. Berrigan. This issue should not exist. The “shared parking lot” was posted as “paid parking” during the summer of 2020 with no Council discussion or approval, but with Administrator Fragoso making this change stating “it has always been paid parking.” Will the resident that has ever paid to park in that lot please identify yourself? To date, no financial due diligence has been publically discussed and our city administrator could not provide the simple answer of the lease assignment’s long term financial impact. We now have three (3) CPA/CFO on Council, so perhaps financial due diligence will be forthcoming. Absent appropriate financial due diligence, the process should simply halt pending appropriate information. Keep in mind that current lease terms provide combined rent payments of less than $ 250,000 per year, supplemented by a gross profit calculation that yields zero. Instead, ATAX monies have offset marina losses.

So where are we? No one can provide answers as Mayor Pounds has yet to hold any public discussion instead opting for Executive Session and what appears to be ongoing negotiations absent any public input. The only available current information may be found at https://www.iop.net/agenda-minute/special-city-council-31 As a property owner and/or voting resident I would encourage all to immediately engage with Council on this subject. Ask for open discussion and debate on the intended changes. This has the potential to be a very good move for the community, but questions remain. I have personally spent countless hours of City Council time digging out of the deep hole inherited with these leases. We owe it to all to engage and work together with Council to ensure that all decisions made on OUR marina represent our community’s public interest.

Randy Bell

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.