Richland County Council Meeting • January 3, 2006 • 6 pm
Members present were Anthony Mizzell, Doris Corley, Joyce Dickerson, Valerie Hutchinson, Damon Jeter, Paul Livingston, Joseph McEachern, Michael Montgomery, Greg Pearce, Bernice Scott, and Kit Smith.
Chairman Anthony Mizzell called the meeting to order shortly after 6 pm. Bernice Scott gave the Invocation, then led the citizens in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Election Of Officers
The first council meeting of 2006 began with the election of the year’s officers, always an exciting way to start the year. Bernice Scott made a motion to re–elect Tony Mizzell as chairman and Greg Pearce as vice chair. Joyce Dickerson gave a second. No other motions were entertained, and the vote was unanimous. The selection of chairs was anti–climactic. Kit Smith , who was absent last year and didn’t get to pick her seat, took Damon Jeter’s place. Everyone else stayed where they were, and Jeter ended up in Smith’s old chair.
Mayor Chris Campbell of Eastover was recognized by Mizzell for attending the night’s meeting. The agenda was approved without any changes.
Eight citizens started the new year with something to discuss in front of the council. Chris Kuhne spoke first and voiced his opposition to the planned moratorium on levee construction on the night’s agenda. Kuhne said the proposal had an amendment that allowed someone to repair the levee and possibly raise it to a level dangerous to the Riverland Park subdivision on the Cayce side of the river.
Grady North and Raymond House echoed those sentiments. Both said they weren’t against development but wanted a true moratorium without any amendments allowing repair or construction.
Dan Tucker said he wasn’t an attorney, but one he trusted said the court challenge currently being fought out did not involve flood levels but was a procedural question. He felt the county should decree a true moratorium until the court decides what to do.
Bob Wisnewski said it would be a mistake to allow any work on the levee until the court decides the issue. Bland Holman , attorney for the Cayce citizens, offered to answer any questions the council might have, since he was involved in the process. There were no takers.
William Vinson spoke about the quit claim ordinance involving his parents property. He said there was still a question about the ordinance, and the council should get together with all parties before approving the item.
Evelyn Bush asked for the council to correct the minutes from the December 20 meeting in which her statement was dated November 20, rather than December 20.
The minutes from the December special called meeting were approved with the correct date from the Bush statement, courtesy of Pearce. Paul Livingston reluctantly asked the council to reconsider the agenda. He wanted to make sure an item was there. After confirming the item, a letter of support for the Eau Claire medical co–op, the agenda was approved again. The December public hearing minutes were also approved.
The county attorney mentioned two items that could be executive session items, if the council needed the information. County administrator Pope confirmed the retreat dates and place, and told the council a tentative agenda would be e–mailed to them. Pope also publicly thanked Daniel Driggers and the rest of the financial staff for doing a wonderful job getting the budget information ready for an audit.
The clerk had nothing to report, and the chairman mentioned a letter from the museum about an upcoming speaker from Ireland.
There were no public hearing items on the night’s agenda. Three consent items were moved to the agenda for discussion. The first of those was the quit claim deed ordinance for William Vinson. McEachern asked for the item to be approved to third reading, but for the staff to get with both parties and insure all involved were happy with the settlement.
The Innovista bond issue continues to be a volatile issue. Mike Montgomery said there was no contract for the council to look over and felt the council didn’t need to vote on the item without a contract.
Pearce said the ordinance was time critical and needed to be passed. The contract could come before third reading. Livingston asked county administrator Milton Pope if the questions raised in the last meeting by council members had been answered by USC. Pope said he felt the questions had been addressed. After some procedural maneuvering, Jeter asked the item be deferred until the end of the meeting and discussed in executive session. His motion was approved.
Jeter started the discussion on the levee issue by explaining what his committee had decided. Montgomery said he sided with the citizens and offered a substitute motion to approve the moratorium without the amendments to allow repair. Livingston asked Pope if the amendments were present in the original document sent to committee. Pope said no, the original called for a true moratorium.
Scott called for approval with the amendments, saying the council was running around like scared kids, trying to anticipate what FEMA might do. Livingston then asked Pope if the Montgomery motion echoed what staff suggested. Pope confirmed it does. Although the Montgomery motion passed 7–4, it failed, since it is an emergency motion. Two–thirds majority is required on emergency motions.
Smith made a motion to approve first reading of a motion worded exactly like the Montgomery motion. In effect, she removed the emergency status. Scott again stated the council was moving too fast and trying to do something they weren’t sure about. She made a substitute motion to send the item to committee. Her motion was defeated and Smith’s was approved.
Livingston asked permission for Mr. Dean of the Eau Claire Co–op Health Center to speak to the council in reference to the Letter of Support on the agenda. Dean told the council there was 2.8 million dollars in Federal grants being issued in 2006 and anyone wishing some of the money needed legislative sponsorship. The Eau Claire group already has a sponsor and wants the county to draft a letter of support for the co–op. The item was approved.
The Hopkins property acceptance item was deferred until a committee meeting on January 24.
Citizens Input Part Two
Evelyn Bush asked the county to investigate an item in the local newspaper concerning a Livability court. Bush said this concept began in the Appearance Commission and even though Columbia, rather than Richland County, presently operates the court, she is concerned it might be unconstitutional. Mizzell asked the staff to look into the specifics and provide feedback to Bush.
The council moved into executive session to discuss the Innovista bond issue in private. After 35 minutes, the council reconvened and Livingston asked for second reading approval of the item. Montgomery re–stated his opposition to voting on anything that affects the pocketbook of Richland County citizens without having all the information available. Val Hutchinson agreed. Montgomery made a substitute motion to defer the item. It was defeated. The main motion was approved, 7–4.
Smith asked for staff to find 2 million dollars for Olympia neighborhood improvements and refer the item to the Administrative and Finance committee. McEachern asked for an item concerning a state financial grant for the Highway 21 and I77 corridor be referred to the D & S committee.
With no other business to discuss, the meeting was adjourned.