Georgetown County Council on Tuesday approved a $90.5 million budget for the 2019-2020 fiscal year beginning July 1.
The budget increases the countywide millage rate by 2.7 percent to 63.8 mills. The millage rates for county fire (District I) and Midway (District II) will also increase, by 1 percent and 0.4 percent respectively.
During the meeting, Council also voted to make adjustments to the current year’s budget, which runs through June 30. That’s a common annual practice as actual expenditures may vary from budgeted amounts that were set 12 months earlier.
Prior to the beginning of the regular meeting, council members held a workshop to hear a presentation on the Georgetown Climate Adaptation Project. That’s an effort to help county government and other stakeholders decide what actions could be taken to help address the impacts of hurricanes and other storms, including several major floods over the past few years.
This period at the beginning of the meeting offered four people an opportunity to address County Council.
One of the speakers was Tiffany Pierce. Along with perhaps 40 other people, she came to ask council for help for victims of heroin abuse. She asked the people who came with her to stand if they have lost a family member or friend to heroin, or have people close to them who are dealing with heroin abuse. The group would like help from the county in providing medicine to help people avoid heroin use, and to help deal with the problems caused by abuse.
Council Chairman John Thomas pointed out that the Georgetown County Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission has programs available. He said the county would see if there is a Narcotics Anonymous program, and if not, would encourage GCADAC to establish one.
Karen Yaniga spoke about the Opticon system that would allow emergency responders to change traffic signals when they are on the way to an emergency or to a hospital.
Council also approved on the consent agenda purchases of several vehicles, pest control services and roof replacements and repairs.
Along with final approvals for the two budget items, council gave second reading approvals to three ordinances. Two of the ordinances deal with changing zoning for land on Martin Luther King Drive from Medium Density Residential to Transitional. That would allow the property owner to add a golf cart storage and maintenance facility, as well as RV and boat storage. Council wants to see details on landscaping, a berm and a rendering of the proposed buildings before third reading approval is considered.
The third ordinance would declare two small pieces of property as surplus, so they can be sold at fair market value. One of those is the former magistrate’s office in Pleasant Hill. That magistrate is now located at the Choppee Health Center complex and the Pleasant Hill property is no longer needed. The other property is a building on the campus of the Howard Adult Center in the West End area of Georgetown. The building was the band room for the old Howard High School. The Howard Alumni Association is seeking the building for its organization’s use.
Council also agreed to renew a memorandum of understanding with the Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce to be its agent for promoting tourism.
Members approved entering into a lease agreement with Belin United Methodist Church in Murrells Inlet for a long-term lease on land that will allow re-configuring the entry to the boat landing in the community.
County Council approved a resolution recognizing Ethel Bellamy on her retirement as director of the Waccamaw Center for Mental Health. That agency serves clients in Georgetown, Williamsburg and Horry counties.
Another resolution sets aside July 27 through Aug. 4 as “Gullah/Geechee Nation Appreciation Week.”
Queen Quet – Marquetta L. Goodwine – is chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation. She accept the resolution and thanked people for their support of education and awareness of Gullah heritage. Goodwine lives in Beaufort County and said that she had been in Barbados and several other states in the past several days but changed her schedule in order to make the trip to Georgetown, because she appreciates the local community.