The City of Columbia City Council met for a Work Session on Wednesday, November 17, 2004 in the City Council Chambers at 1737 Main Street, Columbia, South Carolina. The Honorable Mayor Robert D. Coble called the meeting to order at 9:08 a.m. The following Council members were present: 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. The Honorable E. W. Cromartie, II joined the meeting at 9:37 a.m. Also present were Mr. Charles P. Austin, Sr., City Manager and Ms. Erika D. Moore, City Clerk.
CITY COUNCIL DISCUSSION / ACTION
A. Midlands Authority for Conventions Sports & Tourism Quarterly Update - Mr. Steve Camp, President and Chief Executive Officer
Mr. Steve Camp, Midlands Authority for Conventions Sports & Tourism President and Chief Executive Officer provided an update on how the Midlands Authority for Conventions Sports and Tourism has utilized their allocation of Hospitality Tax Funding to promote the Columbia Riverbanks Region. He said that they are advertising the regional attractions through The State Newspaper. He told the members of City Council that the Authority is also working with the Columbia Museum of Art to promote an event at the Koger Center for the Jonathan Green Art Exhibit. Mr. Camp stated that they would also work with them on a billboard-advertising program that would highlight the new branding slogan. He announced that a significant amount of space near baggage claims in the Airport was purchased and then sold to area attractions at a cheaper rate. He outlined some of the Authority’s efforts to advertise on the Internet, to produce a marketing video without spoken words that would attract meeting planners, and that direct mail campaigns are scheduled for January and May 2005. Mr. Camp explained that the Midlands Authority for Conventions Sports & Tourism would be doing public relation blitzes to key markets in January, March and May 2005. He said that they are working with the Conventions and Visitors Bureau and the Hospitality Association to promote the Certified Friendly Classes, which will familiarize employees in the hospitality industry with the many regional attractions available. Mr. Camp announced that Southern Living and USA Today have already visited us and that Turner South will present a three-day show featuring Columbia, South Carolina after January 1, 2005.
· Mr. Cromartie joined the meeting at 9:37 a.m.
B. ** The City of Columbia Beautification Plan – Ms. Susan Leonard, Tree and Appearance Commission Chair and Dr. John Stucker, Tree and Appearance Commission Board Member
Ms. Susan Leonard, Tree and Appearance Commission Chair, said that seventeen (17) projects have been completed throughout the city and they are working on five (5) more, while approaching the Commission’s 10th Anniversary. She reminded the members of City Council that the 2002 Davey Group Report recommended that 850 trees be planted annually for the next twenty (20) years. Ms. Leonard mentioned such partnership programs as Columbia Green, which donates $45,000.00 annually. She informed the members of City Council that the revised Landscaping and Tree Ordinance is working well. She said that during fiscal year 2004 over 900 trees were removed and 420 were planted and for fiscal year 2005 funds were allocated for 460 trees to be planted.
Dr. John Stucker Tree and Appearance Commission Member told the members of City Council that over the next two (2) fiscal years the City’s tree inventory would increase by 230,000 square feet. He described how the Forestry & Beatification Division continues to operate with the same four (4) maintenance crews since 2000. They requested an additional three (3) maintenance crews by either expanding the current crews, using contract services or recruiting partnership resources. Dr. Stucker recommended that additional staffing needs be funded through the Hospitality Tax revenues, Accommodations Tax revenues, Tax Increment Fund, mid-year allocation or unexpended personnel funds.
There was a consensus of Council to defer consideration of this request until December 8, 2004.
· City Council adjourned the Work Session at 9:57 a.m. to convene the Regular Meeting.
· City Council reconvened the Work Session at 11:14 a.m.
C. Lobbying Reforms – The Honorable Mayor Robert D. Coble
Mayor Robert D. Coble presented a revised memo outlining a Motion to Create a City Lobbying Ordinance.
Councilman Hamilton Osborne, Jr. said that this Ordinance is a solution
waiting for a problem. He said that the problem is the practice of
allowing proponents of various actions to meet and communicate privately
with City Council members. He noted that an exception should be made
to non-profit organizations and governmental entities. He suggested that
employees of governmental agencies not be considered as lobbyist.
Councilwoman Anne Sinclair stated that private meetings are beneficial and they should continue. She said that the proposed language is a good first step, but acknowledged that it needed some fine-tuning and should be put into the appropriate legal format. She requested legal advice regarding the creation of an Ethics Advisory Officer.
Councilwoman Tameika Isaac Devine agreed that Council should address the issue of secret meetings. She questioned the acts prohibited of lobbyist and City Council members in regards to attending functions hosted by organizations.
Councilman E. W. Cromartie, II said that the Ordinance must be crafted in such a manner that City Council doesn’t inadvertently violate the Ordinance. He said that collective invitations to a function of another organization should not be a concern. Mr. Cromartie said that elected officials should be able to talk to whomever since we are the closest local governmental entity to the citizens of Columbia. He requested that the word “knowingly” be inserted in the section referring to acts prohibited by City Council.
Councilman Sam Davis urged Mayor Coble not to create unfair expectations. He suggested that City Council review the State definition of a Lobbyist.
There was a consensus of Council to direct Mr. Jim Meggs, City Attorney, to draft a City Lobbying Ordinance based upon the revised memo that was presented and discussed here today. Revisions shall be limited to the technical changes that were discussed by the members of City Council. Consideration of this Ordinance was deferred until December 8, 2004.
D. University of South Carolina Baseball Stadium – The Honorable Mayor Robert D. Coble
Mayor Robert D. Coble shared information with the members of Council relating to a request from the University of South Carolina (USC) for the City of Columbia to participate in the development of a new baseball stadium. USC has requested an annual rebate for twenty (20) years in the amount of $150,000.00 from the Admissions Tax generated by the Colonial Center and the new baseball stadium. They also requested an additional $105,000.00 from the Hospitality Tax Fund annually for ten (10) years. The funding would cover infrastructure and capital costs of a new baseball stadium. Mayor Coble said that this would be a good investment for the City of Columbia and that the suggested funding sources are appropriate. He stated that youth baseball tournaments would be promoted at the new stadium. He said that 1,000 seats would be made available to the public to be purchased at regular ticket prices without regard to being affiliated with the University. He said that there should be a parking plan as a condition preceding this arrangement. Mayor Coble asked the members of City Council if there is a desire to further discuss this request.
Councilman Hamilton Osborne, Jr. said that since this request is from the University of South Carolina, he would like to give it careful and respectful consideration. He expressed concerns about the availability of funding. Mr. Osborne said that he would be more comfortable with supporting the University indirectly with public infrastructure costs. He recommended that the City draft a counter proposal to the University of South Carolina.
Councilman Sam Davis urged the members of City Council to consider what we want to do in the long range with Hospitality Tax Funds. He said that USC should have to apply for funding just as any other organization would. He stated that he would agree to partner with some of the research and development initiatives, because that’s a higher priority. Mr. Davis inquired about the Gamecock Club and other in-house commitments.
Councilman Daniel Rickenmann said that traffic and parking locations are issues that need to be addressed. He stated that the University of South Carolina Athletics are the number one tourist attraction to South Carolina. He stated that re-circulating their Admissions Tax back to them is ideal. Mr. Rickenmann questioned the figures. He added that he is supportive of the request, because the University has 12,432 employees on their payroll ten (10) months out of the year and 24,000 students that are an economic stimulus.
Councilwoman Anne Sinclair stated that the University of South Carolina is a major player in our community. She said that the Admissions Tax is generated by the activities at the baseball stadium, but a portion of the Colonial Center’s Admissions Tax has been spent on Hockey. She said that the reservation of 1,000 seats for the general public should not be used as a basis for Council’s decision. Ms. Sinclair highlighted the fact that the City of Columbia does a lot for the University since they are a State entity; they pay no taxes; and the taxpayers support Police and Fire Services for the University. She recommended that Council continue discussions to develop strategies of support for the stadium.
Councilman E. W. Cromartie, II said that Council should determine how this request would affect similar funding requests. He stated that it amazes him how the City has various partnerships with the University of South Carolina and then we must go back and negotiate to be a part of various initiatives. He referred to the land deal at the Colonial Center and the Hockey Team. Mr. Cromartie said that he would like to draft a partnership agreement that would outline the benefits to the citizens of the City of Columbia.
Councilwoman Tameika Isaac Devine said that she is supportive of the
request, but she is concerned about funding and the location of the stadium.
She suggested that staff review the proposal and recommend options for
funding. Ms. Devine agreed that the City has other priorities and
requests that are pending.
There was a consensus of City Council to discuss their concerns with the University of South Carolina’s Administration. Council deferred consideration of this funding request until December 8, 2004.
**Mr. Charles P. Austin, Sr., City Manager, announced the November 30, 2004 retirement of Mr. Donny Phipps, City of Columbia Inspections Director and Building Official. He publicly acknowledged Mr. Phipps for his outstanding service to the City of Columbia.
APPEARANCE OF PUBLIC HAVING BUSINESS WITH CITY COUNCIL
Mr. Bill Manley appeared before the members of City Council to discuss the relocation of the Regional Transit Authority Headquarters to Lucius Road. He said that he is concerned about the routing of the buses through the corridors of River Drive and Sunset Drive. Mr. Manley stated that both roads have two (2) lanes and they intersect with residential neighborhoods. He explained that River Drive has gutters, curbs and sidewalks, but Sunset Drive does not. He asked the members of City Council to make a positive and permanent decision that at no time now or in the future will the Regional Transit Authority’s forty (40) passenger buses be routed through their neighborhood. Mr. Manley asked the members of City Council to give consideration to funding, consultants, development corporations, outside attorneys, lawsuits, quality of life issues, the University of South Carolina, Fort Jackson, State Government, our youth and infrastructure projects during their upcoming Council Retreat.
Upon motion by Mr. Cromartie, seconded by Mr. Davis, Council voted unanimously to go into Executive Session at 12:33 p.m. for the discussion of Items E. and F. as amended.
EXECUTIVE SESSION DISCUSSION
E. **Discussion of negotiations incident to proposed contractual
- **County Fire Service Contract
This item was discussed in Executive Session no action was taken.
F. **Receipt of legal advice which relates to a matter covered
by attorney-client privilege
- **Meridian Streetscape Rework
- **Cultural Facilities
These items were discussed in Executive Session no action was taken.
· City Council adjourned the meeting at 1:30 p.m.
Respectfully submitted by:
Erika D. Moore