Sullivan’s Island Town Council Meeting: Tuesday, December 17, 2018

By Gregg Bragg, The Island Eye News Staff Writer

A skinny agenda and sparse crowd marked the final Sullivan’s Island Town Council assembly of 2018, held on Dec. 17. ‘Twas the meeting before Christmas, and Mayor Patrick O’Neil was ready with stacks of blue tins containing cookies, which he distributed to staff. Ribbed about the indulgence, the health care professional said, “Look! Just 150 calories for four cookies,” grinning and pushing back on the mock indignation in equal measure. The festive mood ebbed only slightly, as Council got straight to the business of running the island.

Councilmembers Mark Howard, Tim Reese, Rita Langley, Bachman Smith, Chauncey Clark, and Sarah Church were all present. There were no responses to the Mayor’s invitation for citizen’s comments from residents, though an important side-bar developed when Mr. Figaroa introduced himself as a representative of Republic Services, Inc.

RSI has handled Sullivan’s trash/recycling needs since 2004. They were incorporated in 1996 as a holding company for subsidiaries, which now include 340 collection operations, 201 transfer stations, 193 landfills, 90 recycling centers, 11 treatment/recovery and disposal facilities, 12 saltwater disposal wells and 63 landfills.

 Mayor O’Neil asked if anyone had questions for the Town’s vendor, and was greeted by silence. “We’re at the point where it’s time to renew our agreement with [RSI] Republic,” interjected Town Administrator Andy Benke.

“[We’ve] had a dialogue going back and forth [and should have something ready] for the January workshop. Republic’s been gracious enough to put together some totals for us… total tonnage, number of stops, trips to the landfill… So [those documents should be ready].”

Benke added, “There’s a large amount of geography… on the island. Those trucks only hold so much.” His comments potentially indicating that travel time may affect rates. Benke said the Town has had a “great” relationship with RSI, and thinks staff could be ready with a recommendation as soon as the January Town Council meeting.

Council then voted unanimously on all five of the meeting’s action items:

  • Two sets of minutes; November’s Council meeting, and a special Council meeting held on Dec. 10.
  • Ordinance 2018-08 received its third and final reading, ratifying an increase in the fees assessed for business licenses. The move mirrors a similar resolution increasing fees for building permit fees passed last month. It should be noted; business licenses require an ordinance to be ratified while building permits are enacted through a simple resolution.
  • Ordinance 2018-09 was read into the record for the second time in an effort to sync Sullivan’s Island’s statutes with the wording used by the state of South Carolina.
  • The cost of dog permits was also increased. The new fee for “off island” dogs is $50, or a $15 increase.
  • The Town still encourages residents to clean up their own recreational beach fires.

However, they will now assess $50 (residents) and $100 (nonresidents) for permits to build campfires on the beach.

The Mayor’s report was a study in brevity; O’Neil thanked the Park Foundation for their contribution to the Town’s new welcome sign. Likewise, the Town Administrator’s report was a brief celebration of the new sign’s simplicity and “soft lighting and indigenous plants,” added Benke with a satisfied sigh.

The sign has wended its way through the system for the past four years, and started as a gift paid for by a cabal of residents hoping to amplify the island’s allure. The last time the sign achieved “done deal” status was in June of 2016, but objections to the original design’s tide clock and electronic messaging system resulted in two steps back. For more detail on the history of the topic visit, welcome-sign-design-sent-backdrawing-board/.

The sole committee report was provided by councilmember Smith who said, “We finally got bids in to the work station at 20.5 for a replacement sewer line that is long overdue. The initial stretch [starts] somewhere along the back of the fire station, runs up to Middle St., and comes to $269,000. And to lay a new line at a little bit better grade to service lots along the ocean ward side of Middle St. [to station 21] comes to $331,000 for a total of $601,000 [and change].”

Smith said the bids will be valid long enough for further deliberation on the part of both the Water and Sewer Committee and the Town Council, in response to a smattering of questions.

Council then took a brief “time out” for executive session. Councilmember Smith took the reins when the group returned and said, “I’d like to make a motion that would allow Town members to donate sick leave time to other Town staff members, not to exceed three weeks in a calendar year.” There was no explanation needed or offered, and the measure passed unanimously.

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned. The next meeting of the Sullivan’s Island Town Council will be held Tuesday, Jan. 15 at 6 p.m.

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