THIS WEEK'S TOP STORIES
Pawleys Island: On Day 1, new council finds budget deficit
By Charles Swenson
The Pawleys Island Town Council that was sworn in this week faces a $438,000 budget deficit. The mayor and four council members have a month to consider their options before giving final approval to the plan that includes a new Town Hall and the engineering work for a beach nourishment project.
“It’s kind of a unique situation where you have a council leaving and a council coming in and you have to approve the budget,” Town Administrator Ryan Fabbri said. “That’s why they have fiscal years.”
The town’s fiscal year starts Jan. 1.
The situation isn’t dire, despite the projected red ink. The town had a $507,000 surplus in its current budget through the end of October. It has nearly $7 million on hand, of which $5.3 is earmarked for beach management.
Jimmy Braswell took the oath as the town’s fifth mayor since it was formed in 1985. Guerry Green joined incumbents Ashley Carter and Sarah Zimmerman on council. Rocky Holliday will be sworn in later for his second term. A family matter kept him from attending.
The budget includes $600,000 for the Town Hall. A committee led by Green is raising funds for the project and now has over $450,000 in pledges, he said. The committee will start selling bricks this week at $100 apiece that will be inscribed with the donor’s name. That is expected to raise about $200,000.
The town is soliciting bids from 10 local contractors. “We want somebody local to do the job,” Fabbri said. The town will find out which ones are interested at a pre-bid conference on Nov. 29.
Another $630,000 in the budget will cover the cost of designing a project to pump 725,000 cubic yards of offshore sand on to 2.7 miles of the island’s beachfront. It is expected to cost $11.8 million, but Fabbri said there aren’t many contractors available and demand is high. Only the bids, which will include optional start dates, will dictate the cost. “We cannot make that decision until those numbers come back,” he said. Those are expected in February.
To increase state funds for the beach project, the town will soon mark eight roadside parking spaces near First Street and four spaces near Hazard Street as beach access parking. “We took spaces that were already used for road parking. They just didn’t have signs,” Fabbri said.
Green asked if the town would get more credit for access if it marked the spaces for golf carts since more would be able to fit. Fabbri said he would check with the state Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, which administers the beach nourishment grants.
“How about something as simple as a bicycle rack,” Green asked.
“It has to be vehicles,” Fabbri said.
Another $40,000 is in the budget to build a walkway to the beach at Third Street, which is now just a path through the dunes. The issue was raised this summer by north end residents. “It is in the budget. It doesn’t have to stay in the budget. It means discussion will take place,” Fabbri said.
The police department needs a new SUV ($42,000) and the town needs dedicated software with record-keeping and GIS features ($6,500).
“This software really gives us all the tools we would ever need,” Fabbri said. “Any tools we can get to make the job a little easier would be helpful.”
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