By Brian Sherman for The Island Eye News
The Sullivan’s Island Town Council is asking for financial help to pave two streets under a program funded by the state’s gasoline tax. At its regularly scheduled meeting May 18, the Council voted to request money through the C Fund program for work on Raven Drive between Station 26 and Station 26½ and also on Otis Pickett Court. The program pays for improvements on state roads, county roads, city streets and other projects. The money is distributed to South Carolina’s 46 counties and then to municipalities. The work on Raven Drive is the town’s first priority, but Council Member Greg Hammond suggested that residents on Otis Pickett Court are concerned about potholes there as well. “Which of the two is in worse condition?” Council Member Sarah Church asked. Town Administrator Andy Benke pointed out that there are six or seven homes on Raven and only two or three on Otis Pickett. “I think either one would qualify. We can apply for both. I’m not sure they both would get funded,” Benke commented. Council Member Bachman Smith suggested that the town apply for both projects “and we can decide if they say we can only do one.” “Who knows? They might get generous,” Mayor Pat O’Neil opined. At the May 18 meeting, the Council also approved on second reading the town’s 2022 General Fund budget and Water and Sewer Department budget; passed a pandemic-related emergency ordinance that allows the Council and other town boards to meet virtually but eliminates the need to wear face masks; passed on first reading ordinances permitting short-term parking lots in the commercial district and allowing homeowners to have a second driveway; and voted to donate up to $20,000 each from the Victims’ Advocate Fund to My Sister’s House, the National Crime Victims Research & Treatment Center and TriCounty S.P.E.A.K.S. In addition, O’Neil announced that the Council will begin meeting in person, rather than virtually, June 15. Church suggested that local residents should have the option to come to Town Hall or view Council meetings online, and Hammond agreed that a hybrid model should be offered, suggesting that “we move forward with that sooner rather than later.” Water and Sewer Department Manager Greg Gress reported that the renovated treatment plant is online “with a few hiccups here and there.” He added that the Department was preparing to switch from chlorine gas to a system using chlorine tablets, which he said is “much safer.” The third reading for the town’s General Fund budget will be considered at the Council’s June 15 meeting. The $8.608 budget increased from $8.320 million from the current fiscal year, mostly because of a 2.5% salary increase for employees and a 1% increase in the town’s retirement contribution, as well as higher insurance costs.
The proposed water and sewer budget will mean a slight increase in charges for residents. Gress said for the average 6,000-gallon-per-month user, the bill will rise from $134.30 to $136.13.