The City of Columbia City Council met for a Work Session on Wednesday, November 16, 2005 in the City Hall Council Chambers at 1737 Main Street, Columbia, South Carolina. Mayor Robert D. Coble called the meeting to order at 9:09 a.m. The following City Council members were present: The Honorable E.W. Cromartie, II, The Honorable Anne M. Sinclair, The Honorable Hamilton Osborne, Jr., The Honorable Sam Davis, The Honorable Tameika Isaac Devine and The Honorable Daniel J. Rickenmann. Also present were Mr. Charles P. Austin, Sr., City Manager and Ms. Erika D. Salley, City Clerk.
CITY COUNCIL PRESENTATIONS
A. Community Mediation Center Update – Ms. Sandra Francis, President & CEO / Community Mediation Center - This presentation was deferred.
B. Engenuity Update – Mr. Neil McLean, Executive Director of Engenuity - This presentation was deferred.
C. Germany Trip Briefing – Mr. Jim Gambrell, Director of Economic Development
Mr. Jim Gambrell, Director of Economic Development provided a briefing of the recent Economic Development mission trip to Europe. He stated that they visited six (6) cities in Switzerland and Germany and called on six (6) different Swiss and German companies while there. He said that the Central South Carolina Economic Development Alliance sent a larger delegation to Europe that made additional calls on companies interested in the region. Mr. Gambrell presented a Letter of Intent that formalizes the Chemnitz Chamber of Commerce’s (IHK) support of the City’s International Business Center. He explained that the German-American Chamber of Commerce in Atlanta, Georgia would rent space from the City of Columbia and along with the IHK they would market the space to small companies that want to come to Columbia, South Carolina. In addition, the German-American Chamber will have a representative in Columbia that would work with the City in assisting these companies. He noted that a company they met with in Germany has already visited with us here and another company will soon be sending a large number of their employees here for up to one (1) year.
Mr. Michael Briggs, President / Central Carolina Economic Development Alliance, stated that this was the most comprehensive mission they’ve undertaken since incorporation in 1994. He said that a twenty-one (21)-member delegation traveled all over Europe and called on forty-five (45) companies. He stated that an important economic development announcement would be made on Thursday, November 17, 2005 at 9:45 a.m. Mr. Briggs noted that this trip was key to the Central Alliance’s marketing efforts and in addition to that his staff has been all over the United States marketing this region. He commended the members of Council for their support.
Dr. Tony Boccanfuso, University of South Carolina, stated that the trip
was important to the University in terms of what they are trying to accomplish
globally and in enhancing their research and academic reputation.
He said that the Fraunhofer Institute has seventy-five (75) technology-oriented
engineers doing work on fuel cell design and has said that the University
of South Carolina is best in this area of technology. He said that
the University hopes to develop an industrial partnership with the Franhofer
Mr. Ike McLeese, President / Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce, explained that the IHK in Germany deducts Chamber dues from business license fees. He said that there are smaller midsize companies that are ready to spread their wings, but they don’t get noticed or called upon. He noted that these firms are looking for an American markets and it is logical that they can’t afford to invest millions of dollars to do so, but the International Business Center gives them that opportunity. He said that we are on to something and we’ll work hard to help these companies succeed.
There was a consensus of Council to direct Mr. Jim Gambrell, Director of Economic Development to pull together all key players and begin developing a plan that lists the priorities, efforts and what we want to accomplish.
**Mayor Robert D. Coble announced that as of December 1, 2005, FEMA would terminate all hotel payments for evacuees. He noted that FEMA would provide an additional 90 days of assistance for hardships, but that local officials would work to change that deadline. He also noted that this wouldn’t affect current reimbursements for what the City of Columbia has already done.
Mr. Charles P. Austin, Sr., City Manager directed Mr. Harold Reaves, Deputy Director of Homeland Security to work with SC Cares as we navigate this transition. He stated that this might cause our transient population to increase. He suggested that we monitor the current hotel rates to avoid any price gouging and that we do a survey of any transitional housing that may be available.
D. **Downtown Veterans Administration Building – Mr. Ike McLeese, President / Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce
Mr. Don Tomlin, Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce Board Member, informed the members of Council of the Veterans Administration intent to relocate their downtown building to a five-acre parcel. Mr. Tomlin said that this would move 340 jobs from the downtown area and it would also move a lot of traffic from the area. He said that Veterans Administration might consolidate their services and move out of Columbia.
Mr. Ike McLeese, President / Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce, said that this isn’t an opportunity to force the VA into doing something they don’t want to do, but we have an opportunity to work with them to develop the best options.
Councilwoman Anne M. Sinclair stated that there’s more to the City of Columbia than the downtown area. She urged them to consider other major corridors that are just outside the downtown area. She noted that the National League of Cities is very concerned about this kind of movement by the federal government.
Upon motion by Mayor Coble, seconded by Mr. Davis, Council voted unanimously to authorize Mr. Charles P. Austin, Sr., City Manager to work with Mr. Ike McLeese and Mr. Don Tomlin to form a BRAC-like Committee that would assist in offering the Veterans Administration alternatives for relocating its downtown Veterans Affairs Building. They were further directed to develop provisions for this committee in addressing the issue and to determine if additional committee members are needed.
· Council adjourned the Work Session at 10:04 a.m. to break prior to convening the Public Hearing.
· Council reconvened the Work Session at 10:58 a.m.
TRAFFIC CONTROL MATTERS
E. Forest Hills Neighborhood Traffic Control - Mr. Dave Brewer, Traffic Engineer - Consideration of this item was deferred.
Upon motion by Mr. Cromartie, seconded by Ms. Sinclair, Council voted unanimously to approve Traffic Control Matters F. through H. on a single motion as presented.
F. Booker Washington Heights Traffic Control – Mr. Dave Brewer, Traffic Engineer – Approved the installation of a four way stop at the intersection of Booker Street and Beaumont Street.
G. Parking on Lady Street – Mr. Dave Brewer, Traffic Engineer – Approved the painting of parking spaces on the south side of Lady Street between Millwood Avenue and Heidt Street subject to the opposite side of the street being painted yellow to prohibit parking.
H. Proposed Traffic Signals- Mr. Dave Brewer, Traffic Engineer – Approved the installation of signal controls at the intersections of Blossom Street at Bull Street and Blossom Street at Lincoln Street.
CITY COUNCIL DISCUSSION / ACTION
I. Review of Contractual Obligations – Ms. Dana D. Turner, Assistant City Manager for Commerce and Development
Ms. Dana D. Turner, Assistant City Manager for Commerce and Development stated that she was instructed to review contracts that are paid through the City’s Economic Development Contingency Account. She stated that the contract with Suggs & Kelly is a ten (10) year contract ending June 2009. She said that it’s an annual $12,000.00 for public parking in their parking lot and there isn’t an opportunity to cancel that. She agreed to develop a plan to market the free public parking in the evenings and on weekends. She said that they are working hard to draft a Memorandum of Understanding with Trumball. The third contract is with Trelys. Ms. Turner explained that the firm has invested with eight (8) companies two (2) of which are located in Columbia. She noted that they have provided 32 high paying jobs at the two local firms. They have invested $8 million in Unitrends and $822,00.00 in Ometrix, which meets the contract requirement of a $6 million overall aggregate investment. If the contract were terminated it would release $62,500.00 from the fiscal year 2005/2006 budget and another $62,500.00 from the fiscal year 2006/2007 budget.
Upon motion by Mr. Rickenmann, seconded by Mr. Osborne, Council voted two (2) to five (5) to deny the request to cancel the City’s contractual obligation with Trelys. Voting aye were Mr. Rickenmann and Mr. Osborne. Voting nay were Ms. Devine, Mr. Davis, Ms. Sinclair, Mr. Cromartie and Mayor Coble.
Upon motion by Cromartie, seconded by Mr. Osborne, Council voted unanimously to go into Executive Session at 11:17 a.m. for the discussion of negotiations incident to a proposed contractual arrangements related to the Convention Center Hotel Agreement.
· Council adjourned the Executive Session at 11:50 a.m. to reconvene the Work Session.
J. Council is asked to approve the following Agreements associated with the Development of the Convention Center Hotel:
- Convention Center Hotel Agreement between the City of Columbia, Windsor-Aughtry
Company, Inc. and Vista Hotel Partners, LLC
- Memorandum of Room Block Agreement between the Midlands Authority for Conventions, Sports and Tourism and the Vista Hotel Partners, LLC
- Parking Agreement between the City of Columbia and Vista Hotel Partners, LLC
Upon motion by Mayor Coble, seconded by Ms. Sinclair, Council voted six (6) to one (1) to approve the form of the hotel agreement and authorized the City Manager to execute all such documents as may be necessary to proceed with the project contemplated by such agreement. The City Manager is authorized to approve such modifications as may be necessary to assure financing for the developer, provided such modifications impose no further financial responsibility upon the City. Voting aye were Mr. Rickenmann, Ms. Devine, Mr. Davis, Ms. Sinclair, Mr. Cromartie and Mayor Coble. Voting nay was Mr. Osborne.
Upon motion by Mayor Coble, seconded by Ms. Sinclair, Council voted six (6) to one (1) to approve the plans of the hotel design. Voting aye were Mr. Rickenmann, Ms. Devine, Mr. Davis, Ms. Sinclair, Mr. Cromartie and Mayor Coble. Voting nay was Mr. Osborne.
CITY COUNCIL DISCUSSION / ACTION
K. **Fiscal Year 2005/2006 Budget Amendments – Ms. Missy Caughman, Budget Administrator
Upon motion by Ms. Devine, seconded by Ms. Sinclair, Council voted unanimously to approve the following fiscal year 2005/2006-budget revisions as presented.
· Fund fiscal year 2005/2006 Holtz Emergency Shelter operations
from the Community Development Block Grant Fund in the amount of $137,000.00
· Allocate funding for the following programs from the General Fund:
- Operation Paint Brush $14,700.00
- Columbia Council of Neighborhoods $15,000.00
- Mayors Committee for the Employment of People w/ Disabilities $300.00
- Eisenhower Foundation $10,000.00
L. **Richland County Loan – Mr. Charles P. Austin, Sr., City Manager
Upon motion by Ms. Sinclair, seconded by Ms. Devine, Council voted unanimously
to reject the modified terms presented by Richland County for the City/County
Intergovernmental Agreement for the Township Auditorium.
Upon motion by Mr. Cromartie, seconded by Ms.Sinclair, Council voted unanimously to authorize the forgiveness of the debt owed by Richland County to the City of Columbia in connection with the Koyo Bearings Industrial Project with the current outstanding balance being $1.1 million. The intent of the Columbia City Council is that Richland County use these funds in support of its Township Auditorium capital project and as a condition of offering this support, the existing Intergovernmental Agreement regarding the Township Auditorium dated July 1, 2001 shall be terminated by appropriate instrument to be executed by the City and the County. City Council desires to retain their ability to appoint board members (one fewer appointment than the County) to the Township Auditorium’s Board of Directors.
Upon motion by Ms. Devine, seconded by Mr. Cromartie, Council voted unanimously to go into Executive Session at 12:07 p.m. for the discussion of Items M. through O. as amended.
M. Employment of an Employee - This item was discussed in Executive
Session. No action was taken.
N. Discussion of negotiations incident to a proposed contractual arrangement
- First Citizens Bank – Mr. Steve Gantt, Senior Assistant City Manager for Operations - Discussion of this item was deferred.
- **Capitol Places IV – Mr. Jim Meggs, City Attorney - This item was discussed in Executive Session. No action was taken.
O. **Receipt of legal advice, which relates to a matter covered by attorney-client privilege
- Board of Zoning Appeals - This item was discussed in Executive Session. No action was taken.
· Council adjourned the meeting at 1:15 p.m.
Respectfully submitted by:
Erika D. Salley