The Georgetown City Council met on Thursday, August 15. The meeting ran smoothly with the majority of votes being handled unanimously except for a vote to give raises to the City Council and the mayor.
The City conducted a review of 10 similar municipalities to gain a perspective for compensation for City Council members as well the mayor. Currently, council members make $5280 a year for their service while the mayor gets $8250. As a result of the research, the recommendation on which the Council voted was to provide a raise of 70 percent for City Council and 45 percent for the mayor’s position.
Council member Carol Jayroe was the first to speak against the raise. She pointed out the City had approved a balanced budget for the first time in many years and did not want to approve the spending of unbudgeted money mid-year for that reason. Councilmember Al Joseph also spoke against the measure. Joseph stated he could not justify giving himself a raise when they are having to refuse requests from department heads on other matters.
Councilmembers Sheldon Butts and Rudolph Bradley both spoke in favor of the raises stating the money was consistent with other municipalities as well as believing the time and effort they put into the position is deserving of the increase. Mayor Brendon Barber also spoke in favor of the raise.
In the end, Councilmembers Butts, Bradley and Tupelo Humes joined Mayor Barber to push the measure through. The resule is a new salary of $9000 for councilmembers and $12000 for the mayor.
South Fraser Rezoning
The council voted unanimously on the first reading of an ordinance that would rezone nearly 14 acres of city property on South Fraser Street from Public Service to Limited Industrial in order to accommodate the sale of that property for the buyer. The property is located around the 2900 block of South Fraser and is part of the old Eagle Electric Plant site. The rezoning will not include the new fire station property there.
The City held a public hearing on July 23 regarding the rezoning and the Planning Commission voted unanimously to send the rezoning suggestion to Council.
Maritime Mooring Field
Council unanimously passed first reading of an ordinance that would amend codes regarding mooring fields, boats and abandoned vessels. The area of focus is the Sampit River on the Harborwalk side of Goat Island.
One of the main purposes of the ordinance is to create a harbormaster position that would be contracted out to a knowledgeable company. Additionally, the ordinance notes that all mooring buoys are owned and installed by the City of Georgetown and permits are limited to one month at a time and must be renewed every month. Another change states a requirement of permit holders to have active insurance that holds the City and Harbormaster harmless regarding a variety of issues.
The ordinance also mandates that the City’s mooring buoys are the only ones that are allowed in the specified field.
The only exception are two buoys that Coastal Carolina will have in the mooring field. Mayor Barber stated Coastal Carolina would be installing their own and were expected to have them installed prior to the ordinance taking effect.
Black River Road Widening
Council approved a resolution to allow the South Carolina Department of Transportation to wide portions of Black River Road. It was noted the widening would take place mostly around intersections and the hospital area and should have minimal, if any, significant impact on the property of homeowners on the Black River Road.
Chamber of Commerce gets marketing contract
The Chamber of Commerce was awarded a $120,000 contract to market the City of Georgetown and encourage tourism. The “memorandum” which was passed unanimously named the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce the “designated marketing organization” for the city for the 2019-2020 fiscal year.
St. Francis Animal Shelter
Council voted unanimously to approve a $75,000 service agreement with St. Francis Animal Shelter. Police Chief Kelvin Waites spoke on behalf of the service agreement and stated St. Francis has historically done a wonderful job of managing the animals in which the police department comes into contact.
This was a piece of housekeeping that slipped between the cracks of the electrical department. They have employed a consultant over the past year from Coastal Structures to assist with a “young and inexperienced” department. The contract expired in March and did not get re-approved on time.
The council voted unanimously to re-approve the contract which would pay $60,000 to the consultant who workd about 24-30 hours per week in assistance to the department.
The city is entering the final and third year of a systems upgrade for the water department. This final year will consist mostly of computer systems upgrades and is expected to be done within six months. The council approved a contract with McKim & Creed for an amount not to exceed $160,000 for the work
The Georgetown City Council will hold a Special Meeting/Workshop on August 22. They will hold their next regular council meeting on September 19 at 5:30 p.m. at 2222 Highmarket Stret in the Municipal Courtroom.