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Happy New Year!!! Special Council Meeting appointing Committees, Boards and Commissions January 3, 6pm, 2019

January 3, 2019

Happy New Year Everyone. This past year we worked under the previous council’s budget but going into this new year, we have had a major wake up call with many challenges ahead. While drainage was one of my main objectives and still is, our J. C. Long Blvd Public Safety Building,,that was built only 10 years ago and has been in litigation for over several years, has serious construction defects. The city finally settled our suit receiving about 1.2 million, but the bottom line is that the repairs will end up costing anywhere between 3-5 million on a building that originally cost 6.5 million to build. This, too, is a top priority that has to be done in order to ensure an ideal working environment for our public safety personnel and to prevent the building from further decay. Because of this building’s defects, we had Hill Construction do an evaluation on all city properties and found that we have about another 1.8 million in deferred maintenance. And now that we have a very forward thinking council, we held a budget workshop in December that showed our annual budget is not sustainable. We have lived off tourism dollars for years which we have been depleting, yet we have rising costs with a flat income stream. If we are to maintain our quality of life, we have to create a budget that will take care of city assets (which are your’s), and one that projects way into the future. I compare it to when Wando High School was built; by the time it was completed, it was already too small due to unbridled growth East of the Cooper. Another example is the Ravenel Bridge, which once it was completed, it could not handle the growth in traffic due to reason mentioned just before. Long story short, we will end up having a tax increase. When one looks at our tax millage compared with all the communities around us, we are the lowest, yet offer more in services than most. Sullivan’s Island’s millage is .0509, Mt Pleasant is .04100, Folly Beach is .0369 and the Isle of Palms is .0264. Look at your tax bills and see how much of what you pay actually goes towards the Isle of Palms and then think of all the services you get for that amount. On my home, only $1,161.51 of my total $5,158.60 of taxes went to our city, yet, look at the great police, fire, sanitation, recreation and city assets it pays for. I know this is not a great New Year’s message, but we have to take our heads out of the sand and face reality; we are having more and more flooding events, which not only causes beach erosion, but also creates a flooded island. Please know that with these flooding events, we still have over 1400 homes that are on septic tanks. To put our island totally on sewer, it would be between 45 and 47 million dollars, not counting finance charges. Our first step is to have a drainage system that looks to the future knowing we are having more flooding events every year. Having to maintain our city assets is also s priority. Our personnel expenses that include retirement need to be addressed and planned for. I cannot thank our staff enough for working with council and individual residents who chipped in to help us look beyond just the next year. This council will become the most transparent one ever; these are all challenges, but challenges we can work through. Thank you for allowing me to be your mayor, and please don’t shoot me for making everyone aware of what we are all faced with looking forward.

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