County council retreat produces 10 top priorities

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County council retreat produces 10 top priorities

By ANNE CHRISTNOVICH
achristnovich@islandpacket.com
Published Saturday, February 18, 2012   |  629 Words  |  

After three days of discussions, presentations and still more discussions, Beaufort County Council walked away from its annual retreat Saturday with a list of ten top priorities for 2012.

That list grew out of talks that began Thursday in which council members named the goals they have for the next one to five years. Retreat director Lyle Sumek compiled about 170 ideas.

During the two days that followed, council members whittled that list down to ten.

"The idea of this distillation process is to see where the majority is," council chairman Weston Newton said.

Here are the ten things council wants to tackle in 2012:

Solid waste management and recycling: Solid Waste Manager Jim Minor pressed the group to find a site for a new recycling and transfer center. He said obtaining permits and construction could take 10 years, so council should start the process now. There were no cost estimates.

Debt and reserve policy: Council hopes to draft a policy that states how much money it should put into reserve funds. No such policy currently exists. The county has $18.5 million in reserve, which would cover about two months worth of spending. Officials want to have about four months worth of reserves.

BRAC strategy: County officials want to work with military planners in advance should the Base Realignment and Closure panel meet in 2013 to consider closing or reducing the size of any of the area's military installations.

County economic development framework: Council will ask for a staff report on the types of new businesses it should pursue to help the area grow.

Major road projects and funding: Council will prioritize -- and find funding for -- the remaining road projects approved in the 2006, one-percent sales tax referendum. Among those projects is the extension of Bluffton Parkway.

Courthouse renovation or relocation: Council will meet with the city of Beaufort to consider building a new courthouse as part of the Boundary Street Redevelopment Plan. Council also wants to address stucco issues at the existing building.

State Infrastructure Bank: The county will seek another, unspecified chunk of an $86-million grant from the S.C. State Infrastructure Bank to complete more road projects. Newton and S.C. Rep. Bill Herbkersman, R-Bluffton, and state Sen. George Campsen, R-Charleston, helped get $25 million from the bank to widen S.C. 170 earlier in February.

Restoration projects for Battery and Okatie creeks and the May River: Most council members named improving the quality of area waterways as a long-term goal and said they would work with area municipalities to accomplish that goal.

Management Information System relocation: The county wants to find a new home for its technology system. It is currently housed in the Arthur Horne building on Ribaut Road in Beaufort. The site needs repairs and is located in a flood plain.

County employee salary adjustments or bonuses: County employees took a weeklong furlough last year and have not received a raise since 2007. As a result, some employees are leaving for better-paying jobs, County Administrator Gary Kubic said.

Follow Anne Christnovich on Twitter at twitter.com/EyeOnBeaufortCo

Related content:

Beaufort County considers making convenience centers a thing of the past, Feb. 17, 2012

SC 170 widening rolls forward with $25 million grant, Feb. 9, 2012