A Recap of January 2024 Focus Areas

Hello Tega Cay,

I hope this message finds you well. As we reflect on the events of January, I want to take a moment to recap some of the most significant areas of my focus and activity during the past month.

Marina Drive: On January 22nd, the first reading to rescind Ordinance 585 received a unanimous “Yes” vote. The second reading is scheduled for the February 20th meeting. This decision is being made to enable future considerations regarding Marina Drive which will take into account the type of development as well as its costs and benefits prior to approval of any change that impacts ownership and use of that road.

Hotel Option: Similarly, on January 22nd, the first reading to remove the Hotel option from the Marina Overlay District also received a unanimous “Yes” vote. The second reading is expected at the February meeting. In addition, over the next months the Planning Commission will be reviewing the Marina Overlay District as a whole and making recommendations for changes, updates, and additions.

The Planning Commission meets on the first Monday of every month (unless otherwise noted) at 6:30pm at Council Chambers in the lower level of the Glennon Center. There is a public comments time on their meeting agenda. If this is important to you, let them know your thoughts and attend the meetings.

January Storm: The extraordinary rain and wind event on January 9th led to an incredible response from our first responders, including the fire department, police department, utilities, public works, and stormwater management. Their efforts were commendable, and it was heartwarming to see neighbors helping neighbors during this challenging time.

Storm Water: The January storm drew attention to our Storm Water department. They are actively assessing areas that need immediate attention, considering both short and long-term infrastructure needs. I was part of an assessment meeting after the storm and learned so much. There are short and long term infrastructure needs that will need to be addressed. Funding will definitely need to be prioritized.

Chat with Council: Our recent Chat with Council event provided a great opportunity for one-on-one connections. Both Tom and I appreciated the questions and enthusiastic conversations and look forward to the February Chat. Mark your calendars for 9:30-10:30 am on February 22nd at Model A Brewing.

Financial Reviews: Starting in March, Councilman Hyslip and I, with the participation of our City Finance Director and City Manager, will be reviewing city financial statements on a monthly basis. This will provide a more focused understanding of our city budget, revenue, and expenses, This finance meeting will be on the fourth Thursday of each month.

Revenue Contracts: I have requested the addition of revenue-generating contracts to our Procurement Policy to ensure transparency and a formal bidding process for contracts related to revenue-producing city assets, including Catawba Park, Shore Club, Beach and Swim Center. This approach, characterized by transparency, due diligence, and an arms-length policy, serves the best interests of all parties involved.

Parking Permits/Park Use: I have put forward a plan to city staff and council which would update non-resident parking permit fees and use policies and explore the possibility of adding security staff to monitor Windjammer Park during peak times. Stay tuned for
updates!

Deer Population Control: This has been a long-standing and passionate debate in our community. Although the culling process was approved last year, it was temporarily put on hold recently due to information and data gathered by the Tega Cay Wildlife Conservation Society (TCWCS). I had the opportunity to meet with TCWCS members on two occasions, where I listened to their viewpoints and reviewed their research data. Additionally, I participated in a Zoom meeting with experts, Dr. Ruth and Dr. Ruthberg. While at first glance the data provided what appeared to be a viable option, it also left me with many unanswered questions regarding the implementation and long term management.

City staff has subsequently engaged with White Buffalo, the company recommended by TCWCS for darting the deer population. Regrettably, both White Buffalo and the USDA have strongly asserted that the proposed darting method, as presented by TCWCS, would be ineffective and a wasteful use of resources. This led to my consideration and decision to vote in favor of adding an additional 80 deer to the total that the city can cull.

This situation brings us to the next decision point. I recognize that there is opposition to culling as a matter of personal values and concerns about the use of firearms. However, there is a longstanding consensus among most residents that the city must reduce the deer population. It’s unnecessary to delve into all the pros and cons of each side of the argument; both viewpoints have merit. Nevertheless, a decision must be made, which may alienate some parts of the population.

Culling provides an immediate reduction in deer numbers, yet it will take a comprehensive, continuous process to reduce the numbers to a manageable herd. This will not be without significant financial and emotional impact to our community. Darting would take years to be effective in reducing the herd and could be equally costly. On it’s own this will not impact the current issue: the overpopulation of the herd. Newly clarified data points by Dr. Tony DeNicola from White Buffalo, Noel Myers of USDA, and Dr Charles Ruth of the SCDNR were contradictory to the implementation data and cost projections shared by TCWCS. Darting would need to include tranquilizing the deer, tagging, hand-injecting birth control, having a veterinarian on-site for wound care, and, depending on the product used, potentially require boosters. Furthermore, the birth control option, at best, may only last for five years, leading us to question its long term effects to our ultimate goal.

What is clear is that this is a complex, multifaceted issue with deeply held personal beliefs on both sides. I am committed to considering all available options through the lenses of fiscal responsibility, achieving desired results, manageable implementation, and measurable programs. I am also taking into account the current and future impact on our community.

I have previously stated my readiness to make difficult decisions. My commitment remains to make decisions that are in the best interest of our community, even when they are difficult and not necessarily the most popular. I continue to lean towards a hybrid approach that addresses both the immediate need to safely and humanely reduce the deer population and the requirement for a sustainable, long-term management plan that may include birth control.

I appreciate your dedication to staying informed and engaged in our community. Decisions are not made lightly, and we consider multiple factors and perspectives.

Thank you for your ongoing support, and please continue to reach out if you have any questions or concerns. My goal will always be to be present, strive towards transparency, improve communication and keep you abreast of what is impacting our community.

Sincerely,

Carmen Miller
Mayor Pro Tem
Tega Cay City Council

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