Thursday, May 15, 2014
Staying beautiful is expensive.
After the Murrells Inlet 2020 Board of Directors saw its funds cut from the $18,250 recommended by the county’s A-tax committee to the $14,100 approved by Georgetown County Council,
it took a second look at its mowing program, paid for, in large part, with Georgetown County Accommodations Tax funds.
The organization contracts with a private vendor to mow the median and pick up the trash that accumulates in the area at a cost of about $1,000 for each mowing and trash pickup.
At the same time, the group heard a request from Patrick Paladino, a Murrells Inlet resident, to upgrade the plantings along U.S. Highway 17 and make the median more attractive.
Paladino prepared a preliminary, hand-drawn sketch of his ideas for shrubs and trees along U.S. 17, created after a consultation with staff at True Blue Nursery.
“Frankly,” he told the board, “you see the areas in Litchfield, in other areas, and we’re boring.”
Board chairman Sean Bond pointed out that right now, the board is having a difficult time securing money just to keep the grass mown.
“Our first order of business,” Bond said, “is to keep the grass mown.”
He also noted that four or five organizations were responsible for the plantings along the median.
“The DOT is responsible for saying what you can and can’t do, and right now, it’s more what you can’t do,” Bond said.
Linda Lane, an advisory board member, pointed out that golfer Lou Krieger and a group of his friends personally maintain the median in Surfside
“He went to DOT and personally found out the rules. He and his friends personally take care of all that,” she said.
As for the issue of A-Tax funding, Sue Sledz, the executive director, noted that with the change in funding approved by Georgetown County Council, Murrells Inlet 2020 would have to come up with a $7,400 match instead of the $3,000 the organization had expected.
Stephen Williams said that the Program Committee had discussed “getting out of the business of roadside maintenance.”
“We didn’t believe, I don’t believe that it’s a long-term business we need to be involved in. It’s typically a county responsibility.”
Williams also noted it could be a question of liability as well.
Jim Wilkie noted that it’s an amortization thing.
“It’s just increasing and increasing and increasing until we are paying for the whole thing.”
“It has been on this table for years, to get this mowing,” said Sandra Bundy. “There are a lot of citizens in this community who are glad and are giving us money to pay for this.”
Wilkie suggested a dedicated fundraiser to pay for mowing.
“That’s $27,000; that’s a lot of money,” he said.
Bond said that there was $823,000 in requests this year, but only $488,000 available, so tremendous cuts were made across the board. He said originally the goal was to use the A-Tax funds as a catalyst to get the project going and then have the businesses take it over.
Bond suggested that the group consider cutting back on the scope of the project and see what can be done with $17,000, so the board would still provide a $3,000 match.
Bond suggested that the group accept the A-Tax money and put the mowing out to bid, see what the bids come back at and discuss the next move at the June meeting.