LOWCOUNTRY LOWDOWN

in Lolita Huckaby/News by

By LOLITA HUCKABY

New construction south of Broad to get more costly

Beaufort – Newcomers to Beaufort County have an impact on the provision of public services including schools – no news there.

And the County Council and School Board members – some of them – have been pushing for additional ways to get money from those folks to pay for those services.

The County Council this week gave the first of three necessary votes supporting school impact fees … new construction JUST south of the Broad River.

Beaufort County had school impact fees prior to 1999 when the General Assembly said they no longer could. Some have spent the past 20 years trying to work around that restriction to help build schools, particularly in the southern part of the county where growth is happening the fastest.

County Council has before it a review of all the impact fees already charged for fire, EMS, libraries, parks, solid waste and transportation.

But because some of the members couldn’t get right with their ZOOM connections, the council agreed to defer this heated discussion until a special meeting Aug. 27.

One online observer wisely noted that if the county leaders can’t get a clear internet connection for their meeting, they probably should add broadband infrastructure to the list of needed improvements.

Get out there, get yourself counted

BEAUFORT – The majority of you reading this newspaper have probably already responded to the 2020 census form. But as of the end of July, Beaufort County’s overall census response was 47.2 percent compared to 2010, when it was 74 percent.

Not good.

Okay, we’ve had the virus to worry about. And a lack of rain. And this political activity related to a mayoral race. And, oh yes, a presidential race.

You may have blocked out the repeated warnings, which have increased in the last week, since the White House announced the deadline for the count would be pushed ahead one month, from Oct. 31 to the end of September.

But the facts are – again, many of you know this already – the population numbers collected during the census are used to help decide what areas get federal funding for all kinds of programs. They’re also used to establish governmental districts based on population, such as County Council seats or Congressional districts.

The 2010 census count is why Beaufort County Councilman York Glover’s District 3 crosses from St. Helena, the southern part of Lady’s Island and into the city of Beaufort. And why County Councilman Paul Sommerville’s District 2 goes from the MCAS to include a part of Pigeon Point and then jumps the Beaufort River to include northern Lady’s Island and part of St. Helena (Data).

(True, there is this thing called “gerrymandering” which is a political process I’m not going to try and explain but trust me, when it happens – using census population data as a base – you might not like it.)

Bottom line, if you HAVEN’T filled out your census form, or know someone who hasn’t, tell them to dust it off from their mail pile, fill it out, send it in. You can do it by phone (844-330-2020) or on the computer (2020census.gov). Just do it.

Clock’s ticking if you wanna be on the ballot

BEAUFORT – If it’s Wednesday, Aug. 12 and you’re reading Island News, you have less than 48 hours to file for the Beaufort mayoral or city council race.

Friday at noon is the deadline for seeing Ivette at City Hall and getting your paperwork in.

As of press time, no additional candidates have stepped forth other than the ones we’ve already told you about – Stephen Murray and Mike Sutton for mayor; Mike McFee, Neil Lipsitz, Mitch Mitchell, Scott Gibbs and Brantley Wilson for two city council seats.

And we still hear Eric Longo’s name as a write-in.

In case you were wondering

BEAUFORT – Yes, the county office buildings are still closed to the public.

The offices – including the VERY popular libraries – were closed suddenly a month ago because of COVID-19 cases.

Inquiries have failed to produce exactly how many cases were confirmed inside those walls or when the doors might be open. Citizens CAN get a library book by phone and court cases are being heard via camera. And thank heavens the convenience centers haven’t closed yet!

Here they come!

BEAUFORT – As projected, Beaufort City Council did unanimously approve allowing multi-passenger golf carts to the list of tour vehicles permitted in the city.

The only last-minute change was the allowance of gas-operated carts versus the electric carts originally discussed. City staff assured the Council the new style enviro-friendly golf carts were really, really quiet.

Lolita Huckaby Watson is a community volunteer, I-95 and U.S. 17 voyager and works for an online news service covering local government. She is a former reporter/editorial assistant/columnist with The Beaufort Gazette, The Savannah Morning News, Bluffton Today and Beaufort Today. She can be reached at bftbay@gmail.com.