Columbia City Council meets April 18
By John Temple LigonTemple@TheColumbiaStar.comRoll call
City council convened Wednesday, April 18, at 9 am. Mayor Coble and council member Sam Davis were absent. All other council members were present: Daniel Rickenmann, E. W. Cromartie, Anne Sinclair, Tameika Isaac Devine, and Kirkman Finlay III.
Columbia Police Chief Dean Crisp introduced his friends and students, military policemen from Af-ghanistan in Columbia to learn civilian policing. They were under the leadership of their major general.
Fire Chief excels
Columbia Fire Chief Bradley Anderson completed all of the requirements for the S.C. Executive Institute of the State Budget and Control Board. He was recognized and applauded by council and City Manager Charles Austin.
Marsheil Johnson , training administrator, introduced Reggie Goeh of Wastewater Maintenance and Robert Justin Land of Fleet Services, both completing GET SET. Goeh earned his high school diploma, and Land earned his GED in only two- and-- a- half months.
Dee Albritton , executive director of Fast Forward, brought council up to date on her programs planned for the summer. For eight weeks Fast Forward will have environmental camp at Mays Park. There will be a music camp with instruments made out of recycled material. Military veterans re-turning from Afghanistan and Iraq are offered computer classes for free. There are other programs for veterans and kids, but the kids are better suited for half- day sessions with a recreation component attached for the other half.
Mary Pat Baldauf of Keep America Beautiful introduced Joe Cronin of Richland County, Synthia Williams of Lexington County, Tom Falvey of the State Museum, and Christa Jordan of DHEC, all coordinating for the next Earth Day, Sunday, April 22.
Rick Semon , director at Community Development, advertised the city's proclamation of Columbia Fair Housing Month, April 2007. With him was Pat Green of the Columbia HUD office.
Laura Easley of the Citizens Advisory Committee and Community Development's Rick Semon held a public hearing on block grant recommendations, home funds, and housing opportunities.
Lillian Mood of the CMCOG Rail Transit Committee and Central Midlands' Aaron Bell presented council with ideas supporting a rail commuter system for greater Columbia. The three main commuter corridors are (1) Newberry to Columbia, (2) Camden to Columbia, and (3) Batesburg- Leesville to Columbia. Connections with other South Carolina cities and with Charlotte became part of the presentation. The superior efficiencies and entertainments of rail travel were discussed.
Village at River's Edge
Council authorized a $250,800 engineering design contract for the Village at River's Edge. Rickenmann objected on the grounds the money to follow through after the design phase was uncertain. Finlay recommended an economic im-pact study in every case such as this, a real discovery on what return from what bucks was coming in. Cromartie suggested that was not the way council had been doing things all the while he sat there, while Finlay and Rickenmann said it was time to start. Council approved the expenditure with three qualifications. (1) It's a go with HUD. (2) There's a letter of commitment for financing. (3) Annexation is under way.
Eastover's Mayor Campbell and Columbia Fire Chief Anderson asked council to approve the donation of a Columbia fire truck to Eastover's sister city Kira Town, Uganda. The Mayor of Kira Town visited Eastover and Columbia this past March. Council ap-proved.
Doris Campbell and others in ACORN protested the city's delays in resolving a ditch problem near her house in the 5700 block of Randall. On November 20, 2004, Campbell signed an easement allowing the city to commence civil engineering. Three years later, Campbell is waiting for the city to commence civil engineering. John Dooley , the city's main utilities man, informed the room that the Army Corps of Engineers killed the deal three years ago while they deciding what was proper wetlands procedure. The Army Corps of Engineers is still deciding what is proper wetlands procedure. Council had already moved ahead on the problem to ameliorate, at least, the imposition of the ditch on the surrounding area while the Army Corps of Engineers decided on proper wetlands procedure, now approaching it fourth year of decision making.
Dana Turner , the city's assistant manager for commerce and development, outlined the city's marketing plan, including hiring Carroll Grey of Charlotte as a consultant.
John Dooley , the city's director of utilities and engineering, led the discussion prior to a presentation on what had to be learned before what had to be done to get the floodwaters flowing all along Rocky Branch Creek from King Park, through Five Points and on to the Congaree River, like it's supposed to. Unfortunately, no one was comfortable with the costs, so no one dared mention the costs, probably because no one knows the costs to stop the flooding in Five Points.
Missy Caughman , budget director, walked council through the city budget for fiscal year 2007- 2008 as a work in progress. The current year is over by the end of June, but the previous year is yet to close its books. Caughman's budget had no mention of the convention center's financial standing. The city appears to be $5 million short in the coming year, and Caughman recommended a 3- mil increase in city taxes. Projected revenues for FY 07/08: $96,322,463. Projected ex-penditures for FY 07/08: $101,372,801.
Retired Los Angeles police officer Bruce Trezevant proposed council consult with him before any more security camera purchases are made. His criticism of the city's recent purchases include obsolete technologies and out- of-- date analog taping features and no real- time video. Also, Trezevant didn't think the city's sole- sourced purchase of the cameras reflected fairness or smart shopping on behalf of the city.
Council meets again on May 2 at 9 am in City Hall, corner of Laurel and Main.