Last night, Council met for a Business Meeting at 6:30 PM at City Hall. Here’s a quick recap:
Father Mike Flanagan of Holy Cross Episcopal Church prayed before the meeting began.
Scott Elliott, a local Boy Scout working on earning a merit badge, lead us in the Pledge of Allegiance.
10 people spoke during the Citizen Comments portion of the meeting. Of those, 6 spoke to encourage Council to vote in favor of the Woodside Mills Habitat for Humanity project that was on the agenda. One spoke about his concerns with the project and urged Council to consider several environmental impacts if we were to move forward with the project. 2 spoke to concerns they have regarding the new privatized solid waste collections procedures. 1 spoke requesting more transparency in the publication of ordinances under consideration by Council.
I made a motion that Council adopt on 2nd Reading Ordinance 2016-05, Council Rules. This was seconded by Councilman Gooch. Several subsidiary motions followed. Councilman Graham moved to amend the motion, asking for a public hearing. Given this was a 2nd Reading after more than 6 months of public discussion and consideration, the amendment failed 4 (Gooch, Hulehan, Cummings, Curtis)-3 (Graham, Braswell, Lockaby). Councilman Gooch moved to amend the motion with 4 updates, most of which were just adjustments to wording for the purpose of clarification. The only substantial change was to strike from 1.93B the words that indicate there is no limit to the number of times a Councilmember may speak. This was discussed in a previous Committee meeting where 2 or 3 Councilmembers voiced concerns about allowing unlimited speaking opportunities, which could decrease meeting efficiency. Councilmember Lockaby with a second by Councilman Graham motioned to table the matter. This motion failed 4-3. The next motion was to table the matter to Committee. This motion also failed. Council then voted on the motion as amended by Councilman Gooch. This motion passed 4-3. Finally, Council voted on the original motion, which carried, also 4-3. Opposed (to both the Gooch amendment and original motion): Graham, Braswell, Lockaby. I am very grateful that after 7 months of discussion and work & multiple drafts and revisions, Council Rules will finally be in place to increase efficiency, productivity, and civility. Read more about Council Rules in previous blog posts here. Read the Ordinance here.
Staff asked Council to approve on 1st Reading Ordinance 2016-06, a revision to the Adoption of Building Codes. This update is mandated because we have to match updated International Building Codes, so there was little to no discussion. Approved unanimously. Read the Ordinance here.
Solid Waste Management Revisions:
Staff asked Council to approve on 1st Reading Ordinance 2016-07, Solid Waste Management Revisions. The purpose of these revisions is to remove from the ordinance Public Works Policy that does not need to be included in the ordinance. As an operational procedure of the Department, it should exist separately from the ordinance. This will make it easier to revise as needed. Further, it puts the operational policy back in the hands of the Department Head, where it belongs. No other Department’s policy is included in ordinance or set by Council. Passed on 1st Reading 5-2, with Gooch and Graham opposed. Read the Ordinance here.
Solid Waste Operation Policy:
Staff asked Council to approve the new policy. The purpose of the new policy is to match the contractual agreement Council already approved with ACE for the collection of solid waste. Again, it was noted that Department policy really shouldn’t be decided upon by Council, but Mr. Crawford, Director of Public Works, wanted Council approval since it was associated with such a major change. Several Councilmembers expressed a desire to keep an eye on the possible negative ramifications of key points of the policy (some of which had been brought up in Citizen Comments). It was agreed we would remain open to possible changes, and as I pointed out, because the policy is no longer part of the ordinance, Public Works can make changes as needed. So as we roll out the new solid waste services, we can adjust. The policy passed by a 5-2 voted with Graham and Lockaby opposed.
Chief Judge Salary:
Council unanimously voted to approve an adjustment to the salary of our Chief Judge. This was previously discussed in Executive Session.
This motion, made by Councilman Cummings, came from Committee. Councilmember Braswell asked that it be renamed “Unity/Inclusiveness Meal.” Other discussion revolved around finding a date. Motion carried unanimously. The City Administrator will organize the event and post details publicly.
Habitat for Humanity Development Proposal at Woodside Park:
Councilman Gooch brought this motion, which he’d introduced in the previous Committee meeting. It passed to this Business Meeting by a 4-3 vote, with Graham, Braswell, and Lockaby opposed. In opening discussion on the topic, Councilman Gooch asked those in attendance who had come to support the proposal to stand. The room was full, and nearly every person stood. Much discussion followed; every Councilmember spoke. Ultimately, the motion carried 5-2 with Graham and Lockaby opposed.The crowd applauded this outcome. For the discussion, please refer to the mp3, which should be posted on the City’s website today.
Staff asked Council to appoint the new A-Tax Committee. The Accommodations Tax Advisory Committee is tasked with making recommendations to the city council on the expenditure of revenues generated in Simpsonville from the state accommodations tax. This committee is made up of seven members who must be business people whose business operates within the city limits of Simpsonville per the committee bylaws. Per state law, at least four of the seven members must be selected from the hospitality industry of the city. At least two of these four members from the hospitality industry must be from the lodging industry. At least one of the seven members must represent the cultural organizations of the city. Council appointed the following members via a series of ballot votes:
- Carol Bettencourt, owner Artisan Dance (cultural organization)
- Sherrie Crawford, General Manager, Comfort Suites Simpsonville (lodging)
- Rory Curtis, Owner, Carolina Olive Oil (hospitality)
- Ben Duncan, Owner, Simpsonville Ace Hardware (at-large)
- Jason Hucks, Owner, Hucks Financial Services (at-large)
- Raj Patel, Owner, Holiday Inn Express & Suites (lodging)
- Julia Scholz, Owner, Stella’s Southern Bistro (hospitality)
Daytime Trial Judge:
Our Chief Judge, the Honorable Rick Moore, has made some adjustments to improve the efficiency of our municipal court, including reducing the number of days that court is held from three to two days per week. Judge Moore will also be re-instituting a domestic violence court that will be conducted one day per month. Judge Moore has indicated that he will be able to conduct the domestic violence court as well as the municipal court one day per week. This means that the City is in need of appointing an assistant judge who could conduct municipal court the other day each week. Consistent with the City’s policy, Ms. Phyllis Long has advertised this position internally. Ms. Barbara Ferguson, who is one of the City’s on-call assistant judges, has applied for this responsibility in addition to her current on-call duties. Judge Moore has reviewed her application and finds her duly qualified to take on the responsibilities of a daytime trial judge. She has extensive experience in court and practicing law including being licensed as an attorney. Judge Moore has expressed that he would fully support her appointment. Per Ms. Long, it has been the general policy of the City that when it finds a qualified internal candidate that candidate is given preference and typically the position is not opened up to external candidates. Staff asked Council to consider the appointment of Ms. Ferguson to these additional responsibilities or to direct staff to open up the position to external candidates.
Council voted unanimously to appoint Ms. Ferguson.
Council then moved into Executive Session for the following:
1) Discussion of negotiations incident to proposed contractual arrangements for the Fair at Heritage Park.
2) Discussion of negotiations incident to proposed contractual arrangements for the management of the amphitheater.
3) Discussion of negotiations incident to proposed contractual arrangements for the supply of recyclable materials.
Upon returning to open session, the following actions were taken:
- Motion to approve the extension of the event agreement for the Fair at Heritage Park for a period of 4 years and authorize the City Administrator to sign the agreement on behalf of the City. Motion carried unanimously.
- Motion to extend the management agreement for the Amphitheater for a period of 1 year and authorize the City Administrator to sign the agreement on behalf of the City. Motion carried unanimously.
- Motion to approve the proposed contractual arrangements for the supply of recyclable materials and authorize the City Administrator to sign the agreement on behalf of the City. Motion carried unanimously.