The City of Columbia City Council met for a Work Session on Wednesday, October 26, 2005 in the City Hall Council Chambers at 1737 Main Street, Columbia, South Carolina. Mayor Robert D. Coble called the meeting to order at 9:04 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.
A. Columbia Metropolitan Conventions & Visitors Bureau Quarterly Update – Mr. Steve Camp, President of the Columbia Metropolitan Conventions and Visitors Bureau
Mr. Steve Camp, President of the Columbia Metropolitan Conventions and Visitors Bureau, provided a quarterly update on the first year of operation for the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center and a progress report on the current activities of the Columbia Metropolitan Conventions and Visitors Bureau. He stated that the Convention Center attracted 92,314 guests from September 21, 2004 to June 30, 2005. He noted that early consultant studies projected that the operating deficit would be $500,000.00 per year, but it’s more likely to be $137,851.00. Mr. Camp explained that the deficit would be covered through the working capital reserve fund established by City Council through the funding agreement. Mr. Camp presented Mayor Coble with the Telly Award for his participation in the production of “Mayor Bob and the Three Wise Owls”. He said that they continue the process of developing a collaborative marketing program for the City’s five (5) major attractions (Riverbanks Zoo, State Museum, Columbia Museum of Art, EdVenture Children’s Museum and Historic Columbia). He indicated that the collaborative plan would be presented to City Council prior to distribution. Mr. Camp said that room night bookings increased 18% during fiscal year 2004/2005. He further noted that they are developing an interactive website with changing visuals; daily updates and the ability to track inquiries. He announced that 125 industry employees have graduated from the Certified Friendly Program.
Councilman Hamilton Osborne, Jr. requested that the Columbia 101 Plan include information on the City’s African American Historic Site Tours. He stated that this is an important asset.
B. Investment Strategies – Mr. Thomas F. Huestis, Senior Managing Director / Public Resources Advisory Group
Mr. Brett Robertson, Financial Advisor / Merchant Capital, LLC, informed the members of Council that the fixed rate of return of the most recent investment is 4.15%, which is .03% bases points off the bond deal yielding a guaranteed $1.6 million for additional water and sewer projects over the next year. He stated that one additional strategy is to look at the City’s overall book of investments or the investment of the Operating Fund and other accounts. He introduced Mr. Tom Huestis to the members of City Council.
Mr. Thomas F. Huestis, Senior Managing Director / Public Resources Advisory Group, stated that his task is to perform a thorough review of the City’s operating investments to include policies and procedures, reporting, supervision, legal constraints, operations and more. He noted that the goal is to complete the review and then report back to the City with their recommendations and implementation strategies.
Mayor Bob Coble requested that the following fundamentals be considered as part of the review: 1) Determine the rate of return 2) How do you take into account what an institution invests back into the community unrelated to the investment? 3) How do other cities balance the rate of return versus their investment into the community? 4) How do you measure the two? 4) How do you weigh a small local bank’s contribution versus a larger national bank’s contribution?
Mr. Thomas F. Huestis, Senior Managing Director / Public Resources Advisory Group, explained that they will review all operating funds, investment policies and practices for all operating funds as compared to best practices in other governments, investment reports for all operating funds, historical and projected cash flow, all investment strategies and the city’s historical investment portfolios. He noted that this information will be analyzed and then guidelines and recommendations would be brought forward. He further explained that they will review what the local banks provide in terms of community services and if or how to integrate that into the City’s investment practices.
Councilman Sam Davis asked if they could review the format in which Council receives this information to ensure that it is user-friendly. He further requested assistance in developing a mechanism for City Council to track and review all investments.
CITY COUNCIL DISCUSSION / ACTION
C. Accommodations Tax Advisory Committee Funding Recommendations – Ms. Libby Gober, Ombudsman
Upon motion by Mr. Davis, seconded by Mr. Rickenmann, Council voted unanimously to approve the dispersal of Accommodations Tax funding to Capital City Lake Murray Country in the amount of $25,000.00 and to Leisure Access in the amount of $20,000.00 as recommended by the Accommodations Tax Advisory Committee.
D. Economic Development Contingency Account – Ms. Dana D. Turner, Assistant City Manager for Commerce and Development
Upon motion by Mayor Coble, seconded by Mr. Davis, Council voted three (3) to four (4) to deny a motion to disburse the difference in last year’s funding and this year’s funding recommendation for the Midlands Education Business Alliance (MEBA) minus the general reduction from the Water and Sewer Fund. Voting aye were Mr. Cromartie, Mr. Davis and Mayor Coble. Voting nay was Ms. Sinclair, Mr. Osborne, Ms. Devine and Mr. Rickenmann.
Upon motion by Mr. Rickenmann, seconded by Ms. Devine, Council voted six (6) to one (1) to authorize staff to re-evaluate the City’s investment with Trelys as a source of funding for MEBA. Voting aye were Mr. Cromartie, Ms. Sinclair, Mr. Osborne, Mr. Davis, Ms. Devine and Mr. Rickenmann. Voting nay was Mayor Coble.
· Council adjourned the Work Session at 10:00 a.m. to break prior to convening the regular meeting.
· Council reconvened the Work Session at 11:10 a.m.
Upon motion by Mr. Cromartie, seconded by Mr. Osborne, Council voted unanimously to go into Executive Session at 11:10 a.m. for the discussion of Items E. through G. as amended.
E. Discussion of negotiations incident to proposed contractual
- Arsenal Hill – Ms. Dana D. Turner, Assistant City Manager for Commerce and Development
- Convention Center Hotel – Mr. Steve Gantt, Senior Assistant City Manager for Operations
- USC Research Campus - Mr. Steve Gantt, Senior Assistant City Manager for Operations
- Lobbying Services – Mr. Charles P. Austin, Sr., City Manager
These items were discussed in Executive Session. No action was taken.
F. Receipt of legal advice, which relates to a matter covered
by attorney-client privilege
- Read Street Extension - Mr. Steve Gantt, Senior Assistant City Manager for Operations
- **Ordinance No.: 2005-121 – Repealing April 5, 1912 Ordinance to Palmetto Construction Company – Mr. Jim Meggs, City Attorney
These items were discussed in Executive Session. No action was taken.
G. Discussion of Employment of an Employee
This item was discussed in Executive Session. No action was taken.
· Council adjourned the Executive Session discussion at 1:04 p.m. to reconvene the Work Session.
H. Design Development Review Commission - Consideration of this item was deferred.
I. Hospitality Tax Advisory Committee
Upon motion by Mr. Davis, seconded by Mr. Rickenmann, Council voted unanimously to approve the appointment of Mr. Robert Williams to the Hospitality Tax Advisory Committee.
· Council adjourned the Work Session at 1:05 p.m.
Respectfully submitted by:
Erika D. Salley