Members present were Bernice Scott, Susan Brill, Doris Corley, Paul Livingston, Joseph McEachern, Anthony Mizzell, Greg Pearce, Kit Smith, Thelma Tillis, and James Tuten.
Chairwoman Bernice Scott called the meeting to order at 6 pm. James Tuten gave the Invocation and introduced a visiting Boy Scout troop which led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance.
County attorney Larry Smith mentioned one item that needed to be discussed in executive session. After removing an item concerning the appearance commission from the consent status, the agenda was approved as amended.
Cary McSwain introduced the latest graduating class from Richland 101. There were 32 members in the class. Each one showed enough interest in county government to commit to seven weeks of school for two nights each week. The students learned how county government functions and how taxes are determined, collected, and used.
Paul Livingston and Greg Pearce were on hand to present diplomas and get pictures made with each graduate. McSwain thanked Kendall Johnson and Stephany Snowden for their hard work in organizing and implementing Richland 101. Scott thanked all the citizens who were committed enough to enter and complete the program, which is now in its tenth year.
Paige Jones, the new director of CASA made a presentation about her organization, which is an advocate for abused and neglected children. Jones said the agency has become involved in 56 cases since November 1. She said the hardest thing for her is to have to decide who gets help and who gets left out of the program. CASA is in dire need of more volunteers and isn’t able to help every child who needs assistance.
No one signed up to speak during citizen’s input. Minutes from last week’s special called meeting were approved without comment, which means the Land Development Code is now officially passed.
County Administrator McSwain mentioned three things in his report. He told the council to begin making plans for the annual retreat, mentioned the progress of the grievance committee, and handed out copies of the new budget.
The only item clerk of council Michelle Finch had to report was a surprise birthday party for Bernice Scott. Relatives and friends gathered in the hall and were led in by Finch. The group had a cake and a large banner proclaiming a happy 60th birthday to Scott, who seemed surprised by it all. Scott thanked all those who made the trip and told everyone she was blessed to have so many relatives and friends.
There were no public hearing items to bring up, and all consent items were approved. The first item to be discussed was the third reading of the various building codes before council. Pearce said the City of Columbia had not adopted the new codes, which is contrary to what was reported at second reading. He made a motion to approve the codes without any appendices, and wait for the city to approve those. The council could then adopt similar codes.
Anthony Mizzell asked why Columbia should lead in this process. He said the fire code, especially, would involve the health and safety of the public, and it was important to pass them. Pearce said the city was responsible for running all water in the county and should be the logical entity to decide what codes were approved. Scott reminded the council their primary responsibility was to keep things simple enough for citizens to understand.
Joe McEachern said he agreed in principle with Pearce but wanted to be assured the appendices would be discussed and approved in some form at some time. Mizzell then made a substitute motion to approve the codes with the appendices as they are.
Paul Livingston said while it was true the City of Columbia was still using codes from 2000, it was his understanding that the codes were nearly identical to the new ones. Michael Criss agreed with Livingston’s statement, saying the two codes were, “substantially the same.”
Pearce questioned Criss’s statement, asking him if he was saying the two codes were identical. Criss repeated his somewhat vague statement that the codes were substantially the same. Livingston made another substitute motion to approve all codes and appendices except for the two which seemed to be giving council members, constituents, and builders heartburn. Both Pearce and Mizzell withdrew their motions when Livingston made his. This motion was approved unanimously.
Kit Smith asked for clarification about an ordinance to amend the terms of Appearance Council members. The ordinance connected members’ terms to the term of the council member who appointed them. Smith was told the existing term limits would also apply. Members can serve for no more than two four–year terms.
Rules and Appointments
McEachern’s rules and appointments committee report informed the council of a vacancy on the employee grievance committee. He also had three candidates for two openings on the airport commission. The council voted for their favorites and Charles Lesser and Larry Self were elected. Lloyd Liles was appointed to the Riverbanks Zoo commission.
A proposal to configure the hospitality tax committee with five members was next to be brought before the council. According to the committee recommendation, the group will consist of five members: two from the restaurant industry and three from the general public. The proposal was approved unanimously. A proposal to provide for the terms of appointment for LRADAC was also approved without opposition or discussion.
There were no volunteers for citizen’s input, so the council moved into executive session. After 38 minutes, the council meeting reconvened, and Scott announced they spent the entire time discussing the Farmer’s Market Memorandum of Understanding and took no action. Everything was “taken under advisement.” A few council members appeared to have birthday cake on their faces when they returned.
With no further business, the meeting was adjourned.