CITY OF COLUMBIA
CITY COUNCIL RETREAT MINUTES
December 8, 2004
10:00 AM - Washington Square Building
1136 Washington Street – 7th Floor

The City of Columbia City Council assembled for a Retreat on Wednesday, December 8, 2004 in the Washington Square Building at 1136 Washington Street, Columbia, South Carolina.  Mayor Robert D. Coble called the meeting to order at 10:10 a.m.  The following 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. Moore, City Clerk.

PRESENTATIONS

A. Financial Overview – Ms. Cathy Alexander, Finance Director

Ms. Cathy Alexander, Finance Director, reported that the Rainy Day Fund balance is $8 million or 10% of the fiscal year 2004/2005 budget and that Business License and Permit revenue is up $5 million due to the increased collections of the Telecommunications Tax and the Insurance Tax.  She added that the Richland County Fire Service fees have increased by $1.7 million. Ms. Alexander stated that $1.5 million was paid on the super sinker bonds prior to the due date. She said that one (1) Lease Purchase was issued for the purchase of computer equipment for various departments and divisions and for fire trucks.

B. Federal Legislative Update – Ms. Barbara McCall, McCall & Associates Advocacy Assistance for Cities

Ms. Barbara McCall, McCall & Associates, Inc., Advocacy Assistance for Cities, reported that although there is trouble with domestic funding, the City of Columbia faired well with its appropriation requests.  She said that it has been difficult getting Empowerment Zone funding and that some programs such as the Community Development Block Grant were cut.  She urged the members of City Council to be proactive by going to Washington, DC and talking with Congress members.  She advised Council to address Congress with a single item agenda rather than mixing agendas. She urged Council to reduce their list of priorities for fiscal year 2006 to seven (7).

C. Response to Request for Qualifications for Lobbying Services – Mr. John C. West, State Capitol Group, LLC
Discussion of this item was deferred.

D. Response to Request for Qualifications for Lobbying Services - Mr. Larry Marchant, The Palmetto Policy Group, Inc. and Mr. Joe Grant, The Grant Group, Inc.

Discussion of this item was deferred.

E. Reports from Commerce and Development - Ms. Dana D. Turner, Assistant City Manager for Commerce and Development

Ms. Dana Turner, Assistant City Manager for Commerce and Development presented a brief overview of the following: Development Corporation Reforms, East Central City Consortium Update, Request for Proposals Policy Revisions and the Feasibility Study for Intermodal Transportation Center for Downtown Columbia.  She reminded the members of City Council of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) concern of how the City of Columbia operates its Development Corporations.  She offered five (5) scenarios that would reform the Development Corporations.

Mr. Jim Meggs, City Attorney, stated that he would provide legal advice relating to the Development Corporation reforms during Executive Session.

Ms. Dana Turner, Assistant City Manager for Commerce and Development explained that under the Independent Entities scenario, the development corporations would become independent from the City and the Directors would no longer be city employees.  She said that under the Divisions of the City scenario, the development corporations would become divisions of the Community Development Department.

Mayor Coble asked Mr. Bradley Evatt, Department of Housing and Urban Development representative which scenario would resolve HUD’s concerns.

Mr. Bradley Evatt, Department of Housing and Urban Development representative told the members of City Council that he would need to review the scenarios prior to commenting.

Ms. Dana Turner, Assistant City Manager for Commerce and Development told the members of Council that Mr. Evatt left the meeting because he was not comfortable offering an opinion on the scenarios.  She recommended that City Council implement scenario two by making the development corporations divisions of the City.  She said that the challenge is how to deal with new residential construction.

There was a consensus of Council to continue discussing the Development Corporation Reforms in Executive Session.

Ms. Dana Turner, Assistant City Manager for Commerce and Development told the members of Council that HUD is carefully watching to see how the City of Columbia will interact with East Central.  She said that if federal funds aren’t used to fund the East Central project, then HUD would not get involved.  She added that she didn’t see any other way of funding the project.  Ms. Turner said that she has concerns with the Masterplan that was approved.  She asked for guidance from the City Attorney on how City Council would establish blighted areas.  She told them that they could all serve as ex-officio members on the Redevelopment Commission or they could appoint between five (5) and nine (9) members and the City Council members not serve at all.  She advised them that City Council members’ serving as ex-officio members is a problem. She suggested several revisions to the Request for Proposals Policy.  The first revision addresses the sale of individual lots by development corporations.  She proposed that there be an exception that would allow the sale of lots smaller than one (1) acre without issuing a Request for Proposals.  Ms. Turner also proposed that when one or more real property owners share a common boundary line with real property proposed to be sold by the City and one or more real property owners contact the City prior to the issuance of a Request for Proposals about the availability of the City’s property, the City will attempt to reach an agreement with the real property owners sharing the common boundary line by dealing with the inquiries in the order in which they were received.

Upon motion by Mr. Osborne, seconded by Mr. Cromartie, Council voted unanimously to approve the revisions to the Request for Proposals Policy as presented.  Council directed Mr. Jim Meggs, City Attorney to draft an Ordinance based upon the two (2) recommendations.
Ms. Dana Turner, Assistant City Manager for Commerce and Development told the members of City Council that a grant was awarded some time ago from the Transportation Administration in the amount of $800,000.00 for a feasibility study for an Intermodal Transportation Center that would require a match from the city in the amount of  $160,000.00.  She said that the City must use the grant or they will lose it.  She noted that there is a possibility that the grant could be reprogrammed for another use.

Upon motion by Mr. Cromartie, seconded by Mayor Coble, Council voted unanimously to direct Mr. Charles P. Austin, Sr., City Manager to review the Intermodal Transportation Feasibility Study Grant and report any alternatives for utilizing the grant to City Council within thirty- (30) days.

F. Reports from Development Services - Mr. Steven A. Gantt, Senior Assistant City Manager for Development Services

Mr. Steven Gantt, Senior Assistant City Manager for Development Services announced that an exhaustive review and analysis was done of the Planning, Zoning and Inspections Departments within the city as a result of many complaints of the departments not being customer and user friendly.  He said that after a lot of discussions with staff and the retirement of the Inspections Director, he recommended that the Inspections and Zoning Departments be combined to form the Development Services Department.  Mr. Gantt explained that all of the Inspectors would be cross-trained to handle all inspections and zoning matters.  He announced that the new Development Services Department Head would be Mr. Marc Mylott, the city’s current Zoning Administrator and Mr. Jonathan Chambers will serve as the Acting Zoning Administrator.  He said that there would be a one-stop shop or a Development Coordinating Center in place for developers by March 2005.  Mr. Gantt explained that he was authorized to negotiate the sale of 1.2 acres in Irmo, but the city’s appraiser misstated the zoning of the property, which created a significant difference in the price of the property.  He told the members of Council that he offered an extension for an additional 120 days to allow Regency the opportunity to get the property rezoned as commercial property with Lexington County. Mr. Gantt stated that there continues to be a need for an individual to coordinate annexation issues and to assist with real estate transactions.  He said that enough funds should be generated through the sell of real estate to pay this employee’s salary.

Upon motion by Ms. Sinclair, seconded by Ms. Devine, Council voted unanimously to authorize the hiring of an individual to coordinate annexation matters and real estate transactions.

A motion by Mr. Osborne to adopt a new policy that would prohibit unincorporated commercial property owners from maintaining city water services after annexing into another municipality without the expressed consent of the Columbia City Council, failed for the lack of a second.

There was a consensus of Council to further discuss this matter in Executive Session.

Mr. Steven Gantt, Senior Assistant City Manager for Development Services, told the members of City Council that the privately developed Convention Center Hotel Project is moving forward and is scheduled for consideration by the Design Development Review Commission today. He said that the Quality of Life Taskforce goes hand in hand with the Livability Court and he is very pleased with the results.  He stated that Harold Reaves of the Police Department and George Adams of the Fire Department have come together to make a great team.  He said that they are addressing long-standing violations / concerns, they are communicating with the community and they are tracking violations and reminding the Inspections Department of due dates.  Mr. Gantt said that Development Services would strengthen the relationship with the taskforce to aggressively address the long-term code violations, safety issues and housing issues within the city.

Mr. Hamilton Osborne inquired about the status of Mr. Jack Gertsner’s case with the Livability Court.  He said that Mr. Gertsner has received a $25,000.00 pledge from a local businessman to repair Gallery 701.  He requested that the city seek a positive resolution while Mr. Gertsner continues to make the necessary repairs.

Mr. Steven Gantt, Senior Assistant City Manager for Development Services, told the members of Council that staff continues to work with Mr. Gertsner, but the Judge would make the final determination in this case.

Mr. Charles P. Austin, Sr., City Manager suggested that we allow the case to proceed as is.  He told the members of Council that he would review all of the information involved and report back at a later date.

G. Reports from Public Services – Mr. S. Allison Baker, Assistant City Manager for Public Services

Mr. Allison Baker, Assistant City Manager for Public Services told the members of Council that during the ice storm events they received a reimbursement from FEMA in the amount of $532,862.00.  He noted Ms. Melissa Gentry, Director of Public Works led all essential operations staff during the ice storms and handled the FEMA reimbursement.  He sated that the city needed to be better prepared for future storms by purchasing additional emergency generators. Mr. Baker said that steps are being taken to create a more efficient maintenance operation within Parks and Recreation, General Services and Forestry and Beautification.  He reported that the University Neighborhood Lighting Project would consist of 202 decorative lights owned by the City of Columbia and that the underground boring and power distribution is 48% complete.  Mr. Baker further reported that the Elmwood Park Neighborhood Association has applied for a grant to assist in funding their lighting project.  He said that they would hold the funding for this project until a decision is made on the grant.

Councilman Hamilton Osborne, Jr., inquired about SCE&G’s intention to charge the City of Columbia for the removal of the existing streetlights within the University and Elmwood Park Neighborhoods.

Ms. Melissa Gentry, Director of Public Works, said that the issue was turned over to the city’s Legal Department.

Mr. Charles P. Austin, Sr., City Manager, told the members of Council that staff is in the process of establishing a city-wide uniform lighting system to offer to communities at a reasonable cost.  He said that that the community must pay for anything requested beyond the uniform system.  Mr. Austin said that they would identify grant funding that will provide lighting under the auspice of public safety.

Councilman Hamilton Osborne, Jr., requested a cost estimate for the expansion of the University Neighborhood Lighting Project to merge the University with the neighborhood.  He suggested that the system be expanded west of Pickens Street, down to Pendelton Street, turn south on Sumter Street, back east to Greene Street and back to Pickens Street so that you encompass the entire campus.

Mr. Allison Baker, Assistant City Manager for Public Services told the members of Council that there is a need to better maintain existing ditches and storm drains.  He recommended that they revamp the inactive Stormwater Committee to review this concern and make a recommendation on how to proceed.  Mr. Baker informed Council that the University of South Carolina originally offered the City $1.4 million to purchase the Naval Reserve Building, but that was unacceptable. He stated that the original proposal was increased to $2.45 million and that is acceptable because it would allow the Parks and Recreation Department Headquarters to utilize city owned property to build a 20,000± square feet facility.

Upon motion by Mr. Cromartie, seconded by Mr. Rickenmann, Council voted unanimously to authorize Mr. Charles P. Austin, Sr., City Manager to negotiate the sell of the Naval Reserve Building to the University of South Carolina.

H. Reports from Administrative Services – Ms. Gladys Brown, Assistant City Manager for Administrative Services
 
Ms. Gladys Brown, Assistant City Manager for Administrative Services presented a brief overview of the following:  Comprehensive Classification and Compensation Study and the Livability Court.  She announced that the Livability Court debuted on December 6, 2004 and since it’s opening all judges adjudicated a total of 126 cases.  Of the 126 cases, 65 were found guilty, 1 not guilty, 12 forfeited fines, 44 requested jury trials and 4 cases were postponed.  She reported that fines ranged between $25.00 and $200.00.  Ms. Brown presented results from the Compensation and Class Study.  She showed which divisions benefited the most from the study. She explained that the Water Distribution and Maintenance Division’s salaries were increased as a whole by $190,811.00.  She told the members of Council that MGT would be making an in depth presentation in January 2005.

I. Quality of Life Survey Results – Ms. Lauren Wise and Mr. Wade Osburn, University of South Carolina Masters of Public Administration Program
 
Mr. Wade Osburn and Ms. Lauren Wise University of South Carolina Masters of Public Administration Program, presented the results of the 2005 Community Survey.   They said that a survey was conducted on behalf of the City Managers Office to determine how well city services were being delivered.  The survey was administered through the neighborhood associations with the assistance of Mr. Roland Smallwood of the Community Development Department.  Citizens were asked to rank Columbia as a community, city government, city services, city programs and facilities, city employees, city budget priorities and economic development.  The following results were given: 42% ranked Columbia as a Community as good; 39% ranked City Government as good; 39% ranked City Services as good; 37% ranked City Programs as average; 35% ranked City Programs & Quality of Life as extremely high and 35% ranked the same at high; 37% ranked City Employees as very good; 30% thought the overall Budget Priority should be to hire more Police Officers; 40% strongly support the City’s Economic Development efforts; and 47% felt that the City’s involvement with the Economic Viability of Columbia was high.  Ms. Wise indicated that the city is operating at or above par according to the results.  She said that a survey was conducted within the Vista, Five Points and the Downtown business areas.  She explained that businesses were asked to indicate what type of business they operated, how long the business operated at it’s current location, and what they believed the budget priorities should be for the city.  She reported the business community priorities for city performance and services were the Police Department, Fire Department, Street Repair and Maintenance, Street landscape and Median Maintenance and Trash Collection.  The business community indicated that in order for the City of Columbia to maintain economic viability within the business community they must actively support the downtown area as a shopping and employment center, attract more visitors to the area and support the expansion of existing businesses.

Ia. **Sara Nance Cultural Arts Facility Name Change  – The Honorable E. W. Cromartie, II

Councilman E. W. Cromartie, II, stated that Ms. Kathryn Bellfiled proposed the idea of revamping Sara Nance Elementary School into the new Sara Nance Cultural Arts Facility.  She worked with Richland School District One officials and made it a reality.  He proposed that the center be renamed in honor of Ms. Bellfield in recognition of her community efforts.  He suggested that a celebration be organized in conjunction with the school district.

  Upon motion by Mr. Cromartie, seconded by Mr. Rickenmann, Council voted unanimously to authorize a name change for the Sara Nance Cultural Arts Facility to the Kathryn M. Bellfield Booker Washington Heights Cultural Arts Center.

CITY COUNCIL DISCUSSION / ACTION

J.  Funding Priorities – Ms. Cathy Alexander, Finance Director

Upon motion by Mayor Coble, seconded by Mr. Cromartie, Council voted unanimously to approve the recommended list of funding priorities in the total amount of $2,595,000.00.  (See list below) Any allocation of funding to a third party may be subject to additional conditions that must be met prior to the release of funds.

A motion by Mr. Cromartie to release previously earmarked funding in the amount of $175,000.00 to the Renaissance Foundation, failed for the lack of a second.

Upon motion by Mayor Coble, seconded by Mr. Cromartie, Council voted unanimously to allocate $85,000.00 from the Hospitality Tax Fund for Landscape Maintenance.

K.  **Gun Amnesty Day – The Honorable Tameika Isaac Devine

Upon motion by Mayor Coble, seconded by Mr. Cromartie, Council voted unanimously to approve a request for funding for Gun Amnesty Day in the amount of $10,000.00 from the City Council Contingency Fund.

· City Council adjourned the Retreat at 4:12 p.m. to reconvene the Work Session.

Respectfully submitted by:
Erika D. Moore
City Clerk