Wednesday, May 16, 2012
An ordinance that would allow the Sheriff’s Office to ticket illegally parked cars instead of towing them was deferred by County Council on Tuesday night after members raised concerns about the fines and deputies overzealously writing tickets.
Currently only the South Carolina Highway Patrol can issue parking tickets in the county. If a county deputy finds a car parked illegally, the only choice is to ignore it or have it towed.
County Administrator Sel Hemingway told council the situation is primarily an issue on Pawleys Island and in Garden City.
“This is much more convenient in our opinion and the sheriff’s opinion to address the issue,” Hemingway said.
The county ordinance would mirror the state law and authorize deputies to issue tickets for the following violations: cars parked that interfere with traffic, pedestrians or emergency vehicles; cars parked on the wrong side of the street facing against traffic; cars parked near posted “No Parking” signs, in handicapped spaces or near a fire hydrant; and cars parked with the engine running.
A parking ticket would carry a fine of $50. That fine would double if the ticket was not paid within 30 days. If the ticket was not paid within 180 days, the penalty would be a $500 fine or 30 days in jail.
Council Chairman Johnny Morant and Council Member Leona Myers-Miller were both concerned about the fines doubling after 30 days.
Several Council members questioned how the ordinance would be enforced in rural areas where residents are used to parking anywhere and everywhere, which led to concerns about deputies roaming the county writing tickets at will.
“We don’t want this to be a solution in search of a problem,” Council Member Jerry Oakley said.
County Attorney Wesley Bryant tried to ease some of the concerns by suggesting the ordinance contain a provision for deputies to write a courtesy summons that would not include a fine.
Oakley and Council Member Austin Beard raised the issue of what the money from the fines would be used for.
Hemingway told Council to invite Sheriff Lane Cribb to speak about the ordinance at the next meeting.
In other business
• County Council approved spending $100,000 on a used heavy rescue truck for Georgetown County Fire and EMS.
The truck will be used to transport HazMat supplies and other equipment and will replace a 1987 international rescue truck that is housed at Station #5, Nine Mile Curve. The old truck will be sold for surplus.
Funding for the truck comes from the county’s Capital Equipment Replacement Plan.
• D&L Sitework Inc. of Conway was chosen as the general contractor for the Pleasant Hill Recreation Project.
The county received bids from eight companies and D&L’s bid of $2.905 million was the lowest.
The Pleasant Hill project includes the installation of two tennis courts, four baseball/softball fields and a concession stand, and the re-surfacing of an existing multi-purpose field next to Pleasant Hill Elementary School.
• County Council approved spending $615,000 to pave Hill Drive, Edgewater Drive, Swift Place and Alligator Lane, $32,000 to re-rock Carr Road and Pine Tree Landing Road.
Funding for the work would come from road user fees.
• Council members will hold a budget workshop on Monday at 3:30 p.m. in Council chambers.
By Chris Sokoloski