Columbia City Council meets October 17, 2007
Columbia City Council convened for its regular session around 9 am October 17 in City Hall. Mayor Bob Cole was absent, but all other council members were present: Daniel Rickenmann, Sam Davis, E.W. Cromartie, Anne Sinclair, Tameika Isaac Devine, and Kirkman Finlay III.
City good guy
Finlay singled out city employee Michael McQueen for going out of his way to accommodate a citizen in dire need of a Saturday trash pick- up. The regularly scheduled pick- up failed to show, and the homeowner needed a quick correction before that evening's social function at the same address. Michael McQueen saved the day and was commended for his actions above and beyond the call of duty. Public safety
Police Chief Harold Reaves outlined his department's police retention plan. The department is budgeted for 346 employees, and 325 are employed. Reaves planned to improve the officer- to- citizen ratio from 25/10,000 to 35/10,000. First, Reaves suggested a pay increase to $34,396 for entering officers, and then he'll have to adjust all ranks to align with the new starting officer pay. Fire Chief Bradley Anderson followed with a similar strategy to raise the newcomer's salary to the same $34,396 from the current $28,352. Anderson's department is budgeted for 481 people, and the number employed is 446.
Dana Turner, the city's assistant manager for commerce and development, predicted an opening of the city's night shelter by November 12. The Housing First Pilot Program accommodations won't begin until February. The night shelter, near CanalSide, will take in up to 206 overnight boarders from 6 pm until 7 am. RTA buses will distribute the homeless around town every morning just after 7 am. There is no plan for daytime care or accommodation or guidance. The homeless crowd is expected to return each night for admission after 6 pm. Under the description "winter shelter," the new homeless shelter is scheduled to close for business on March 31, 2008. If cold weather arrives before the opening date for the winter shelter, November 12, the homeless are expected to use public parks, and if winter weather continues beyond March 31, the winter shelter should stay open until nighttime temperatures stay above 40 degrees. Above and beyond the cost of construction and building maintenance, and disregarding the loss of property taxes, the winter shelter's operations budget for the season is $552,751. The city's sizzling successes in such matters are set for recognition and celebration at its 3rd Annual Project Homeless Connect event, December 6, 2007. Innovista
Attorney Bill Boyd introduced Dick Galehouse of Sasaki Associates of Boston. Sasaki is the urban design firm designing and planning USC's Innovista. Cromartie kept asking about the definition of "affordable housing," trying to guarantee access to riverfront views for citizens with less than 80% of the local median income. Since South Carolina's average per capita income is already recorded at 82% of the national average, the crowd being championed for "rvr vu" on the cheap needs all the help it can get. Galehouse walked council through the master plan and fielded more questions including matters of financial feasibility from Finlay. Participating local landowners Charlie Thompson and Lewis Caswell were recognized and thanked. In concept, the plan was approved by council.
Council kept open applications for city boards and commissions until October 31. Appointments will be announced November 7. Some applications, according to Rickenmann and Finlay, were about two- and- a- half years old. The two earlier asked to close the applications, but they went along with the extension until October 31. Finlay noted 11 previous discussions of the boards and commissions, to include a special and separate work session for purposes of appointments. At the time of the work session, there were already 50 applications for the land- use positions. Devine encouraged applications for positions on commissions and boards other than land-use.
Arthur Jones asked to be recognized as part of the last of the African- American neighbors along the 900 block of Pulaski Street, and he would like to stay there.
A regular session will be November 7 at 9 am.