Update Added! February 20, 2014
11-18-13 Let me begin by apologizing for what happened at the special finance meeting held on Daniel Island Monday November 4, 2013.
I apologize, not for what I said, but for my lack of knowing what to say, after the embarrassing remarks and votes by Mr. Caldwell Pinckney and Jack Schurlknight. Their obvious disdain and lack of acumen for the position they hold and the citizens they represent caught me and others completely by surprise.
I hope they are held accountable for their remarks, and I want to assure the citizens of Daniel Island and the citizens of my district, that I take the issues and problems we are facing now seriously. Unlike a couple Council members, I am willing to address specific problems and not deliberately attempt to delay or distort the issues at hand for personal or whatever gain.
I am pleased to report that Berkeley County EMS now has three new medic units on order. Delivery should be complete for all three sometime around May 2014.
It is important to note that something this simple, keeping the medic fleet in good shape, is NOT actually simple.
The County EMS service requests new units each year in their budget request. However, they have not received the cooperation they have needed from the supervisor. This year they requested six units, and let me add, they are needed, this is not an out of order request, it reflects the effect of previous requests being ignored during the past seven years. But, despite the need, that request was lined off of their budget by the supervisor once again. Later, perhaps as an after thought, the supervisor added the purchase of one unit and used the LOST funds as capital improvement funds to make the purchase.
The LOST funds are the funds from the one percent sales tax that was passed a few years ago for the purpose of tax relief to property owners. You may note that this was recently defeated in Dorchester County, and perhaps the way Berkeley County has abused the use of these funds in the past might have contributed to Dorchester defeating the proposal.
In any case, this is not the proper way to fund a much needed piece of EMS equipment that is essential to the County providing its basic service to its citizens, i.e., 911 services!
But, that is what the supervisor did and it was no surprise as he has neglected the EMS and Sheriff departments for the past seven years in office and continues to simply deny any and all of their equipment requests unless cornered and pretty much made to do something.
So, such is the case. With a conservative and forward thinking majority on Council now in place, we were able to accept the one ambulance order the supervisor had budgeted and we figured out a way to order an additional two units to help keep our fleet up to date. Despite opposition from three Council members and the supervisor, the purchase of an additional two medic units was approved.
Next we will address the Sheriff's fleet of vehicles. No budget was slated for their vehicles despite the Sheriff requesting funds for vehicles. The supervisor, once again ignored this years request as he has ignored their requests in the past.
Our hope is that we will be able to add at least a dozen new vehicles for the Sheriff and to begin a program for fleet replacement for both the EMS and Sheriff department.
Hopefully my next update will be good news regarding the addition of vehicles for the Sheriff department.
9-21-13 I am finally adding to this page an update to the few who may visit. :) I had planned to place information here on my Council activities at least twice a year or more often if needed. Just now, after nearly nine months in office, I finally have information to share with you on my efforts.
First off I have found that due to past incidents between some Council members, that they simply will not play well together. Prior to me even saying one word on Council, I find myself placed on a "side" One and sometimes two on the other "side" have chosen to oppose some things that make me scratch my head in wonder. That being said, welcome to politics!
What have I been doing? What is going on? Have I accomplished anything at all so far? As Chairman of the Justice and Public Safety Committee, my initial focus of course is on the needs of the departments that I represent.
First, after enduring a long slow process, a new Special Fire Tax District Advisory Commission has been formed, it is comprised of eight rural County residents who were appointed by the eight Council members. An orientation meeting was held, an organizational meeting was conducted, and the board is now formed up to address rural fire issues in the County. They will meet the first Thursday of each month at the Berkeley County Fire Training Center in Moncks Corner. These members are all volunteers and should be commended for stepping up to help the county's fire service.
Along with having this board set up thru Council, a vacant property fee increase was put into place to help generate funds to conduct an independent survey. I proposed this as I believe it is absolutely necessary that we have someone other than those involved directly with our fire service to do the evaluation. On more than one occasion, a survey was conducted but nothing happened. To prepare for the future growth and to accommodate the growth that we have already had, the fire service in the County must be addressed, and soon. My suggestion to make a small increase in the fire fee for rural property was based upon the percentage of fire calls the county handles for brush fires. We have more brush fires than anything else but the fees that were in place were very low. The net result is that $150,000 in new funds from 18,408 pieces of property will be available to conduct the survey. We won't have to take it from somewhere else and any funds not used will go back to the fire departments. We can rescind the fee increase if we wish in future years. I believe in having the money on hand to do something first, rather than at the last minute looking for funds. It took 8 months and 12 votes, but finally the board is in place and I wish them the best of luck. They have a tough job, but I think we have a good team in place that may just be up to the challenge.
Second thing is that we are addressing the condition of our EMS fleet. We have 17 Medic units and several discussions have been held with regard to the lack of a fleet management program for these vehicles. This also holds true with the Sheriff Department's vehicles that will be addressed later as well.
Third is that we have had some discussions with the cities of Goose Creek, Hanahan and Moncks Corner with regard to the operation of the EMS unit within their cities. There are long standing agreements in place that need to be looked at to determine if they are still providing the best solution for the County, or if modifications need to be made to keep our County in compliance and to operate more effectively.
Fourth item is the re-opening of the Goose Creek satellite station to make County government more accessible to its citizens. This has been a hot debate item. It was closed under the guise to save the County $50,000 but to my knowledge we can't find the savings. Now, it is claimed that it will take $150,000 to re-open it? Well, to me these are made up figures to suit a particular argument. At issue is that the County should provide access for its citizens an easy means to conduct their business. Everybody has to drive all the way to Moncks Corner if they can't wait to do it by mail or pay extra to do it on line. Our County should be like all the other Counties, have some convenience for its citizens. Does service matter? You bet it does. Look at the Daniel Island issue that has just come up. They are not happy, they are doing something about it. We are trying to re-open the Goose Creek office, I know people were not happy when it was closed and that is why several Council members are trying to open it back up.
That is the work I have focused on in my committee, and of course there are many other things in the works as well as changes that the County is having to react too. I will mention two for you:
A State bill is in the works that will allow the county to be able to deal with abandoned property. Hopefully it will pass in January. There are numerous burned and dilapidated properties in the County that State law prevents the County from dealing with by cleaning them up. The legislation if passed will help resolve that hopefully.
Obamacare, well, it has hit home for sure. The county has incurred at this time an additional annual cost of $366,000 that it must pay to the IRS to continue to have health insurance for County employees. You read that correctly, the county must pay the IRS $366,000 in order to keep the health insurance plan it has in place. Lets say that again. The county must pay $366,000 and in return receives nothing other than being able to continue its existing insurance coverage. Now that makes sense right? In addition, each employee's premium will go up $35.00 each month. Affordable health care at its finest and there is nothing we can do about it because of the US Senate.
There are other things of course, but the items listed above are the main issues underway at this time. As stated below in my first comments on this page, I will gladly meet with any individual, group or organization to discuss issues that you may have. That is my job, I answer my phone and my number is 499-2244.
Please feel free to contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 843-499-2244.
I would be pleased to meet with you personally, address your organization, club or group.
The election is over, it was quite an experience let me tell you. I spent a lot of time meeting people in all neighborhoods of my district and a couple things remained constant no matter where I was or who I was talking to.
As Republican's they expect elected Republican's to actually vote as Republican's. They are tired of using loop holes and slight of hand to defer funds to projects that build government and do little to help citizens.
Thank you all for your support and vote, I will as promised be a CONSERVATIVE voice on Council.