Town Crier: Council code of conduct in question

  • Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Mount Pleasant’s new mayor Linda Page looked on as her town council got back to business last week. With the Thanksgiving holiday behind them, staff and elected officials held committee meetings regarding important issues coming before the town.

One such issue is council members and their conduct.

The discussion was raised by council member Thomasena Stokes-Marshall because of her concern over cell phone use during meetings. Her concern is that while doing the business of the town, cell phones are going off and being used.

She said it was disturbing and distracting and disrespectful to the citizens.

Mayor Page said it even went farther to include general respect for the citizens, staff and fellow council members. Electronic communication during meetings is not respectful, she agreed.

There is no official code of conduct, but Page said officials should be aware of what is expected of them.

Councilman Chris Nickels referred to the electronic age in which we live in.

He said we should be mindful of the rules and regulations and how elected officials use non-spoken communication with each other in regard to the Freedom of Information Act as well.

It was suggested that Page issue a reminder of the respect required while doing town business and how officials should electronically communicate with each other.

The town will prepare a memo for how its elected and appointed officials should — and shouldn’t — handle their cellphones during public meetings. The committee agreed that Town Administrator Eric DeMoura and Town Attorney David Pagliarini will prepare a reminder advising council on the subject. DeMoura said the information could also be shared with volunteers who serve on the town’s boards and commissions.

Economic Development Committee

This year’s Mount Pleasant Civic Pride Award went to The Market at Oakland. A presentation will be done at the January Council meeting.

Last year the award went to The Baker Motor Company of Mount Pleasant on Highway 17.

Also, The Harbor Accelerator, an incubator program the town has partnered with, has seen great progress. The vision for the town was to foster job creation and promote opportunities for employment for town residents.

In looking for that they came across incubators. The town took on the role of providing space at a subsidized rent. That was met with little to no economic benefit. The occupants of the space did not have the growth that was hoped for.

The new vision was then to see what the role of government is in economic development. Now the town provides support to a non-profit organization that handles what the town previously took on.

The Harbor Accelerator, the non-profit organization handling this effort, has been successful.

The group received 39 local applications for eight spaces and more than 80 online applications from across the globe in just 70 days.

To date, applications are closed and four have been accepted officially into the program with four more to be chosen by Dec. 15.

Twenty-four mentors are officially signed on to guide chosen businesses.

The diversity in the applications included sustainable, high impact companies. The four accepted so far are a digital application company, an innovative shoulder brace technology, a STEM-related technology toy, and the fourth is a software service platform for teachers to use when issuing exams.

An accelerator is defined as a model that is driven by the success of the business. The businesses are in an energetic environment to eventually become full service tenants in their own space.

This will not be an exclusively technological-based opportunity.

Christmas bonus

Mount Pleasant Town employees will be recognized for their hard work and commitment this holiday season by receiving a holiday bonus. But, the entire town council must approve exactly how much.

The Human Resources Committee approved a recommendation to the full town council to disperse a holiday pay adjustment for employees of $200. Councilman Glasson made a motion to support a $250 offering, but that did not pass due to councilman Chris Nickels and councilwoman Thomasena Stokes-Marshall opposing that idea.

When brought before the Finance Committee, Councilman Elton Carrier said that $250 is far more appropriate to employees because of the added workloads they carry due to a past freeze in hiring. “We have the money to justify it,” he said.

Stokes-Marshall who originally voted to recommend approval for $200 in the Human Resources Committee agreed to make a motion in favor of $250 during the Finance Committee.

The committee voted 2 to

2 in favor of Carrier’s mo-tion.

The entire council will decide next week what the appropriate amount should be.

There are 530 employees who work for the town.

Police Legal and Judicial Committee

Chairman Linda Page along with Police Chief Carl Ritchie presented a proposed ordinance amendment to the towing rules.

The chief has met with tow company owners and learned that many accept only cash. In addition, if the tow truck comes out and did not tow, there is a fee.

Towing companies on rotation are now being asked, by ordinance, to accept debit and credit cards and to charge a flat $85 fee should a car not be towed when a tow truck is called for service.

A full tow fee is $150.

The committee voted to approve to accept these amendments to the tow ordinance.

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