Berkeley County Council Update
Thank you to The Daniel Island News for asking me for a County Council update during this holiday season. All of us on Daniel Island have so much to be thankful for to live in this beautiful and world-class community. Likewise, we can be thankful that our county government is finishing 2017 in a strong position headed into 2018.
Specifically, Berkeley County is one of the fastest growing counties in the United States and has experienced significant revenue growth to address county services without having to raise your county taxes. For example, Berkeley County had 11 ambulances in 2006 prior to a decade of exponential growth. In 2017, we still had only 11 ambulances, which means decreased call responses and inferior service. We nearly doubled EMS’ budget this year. This will put more ambulances on the road and decrease response time. Daniel Island already had an assigned ambulance, and we will not receive a second, but what it does mean is that our ambulance will not be borrowed as often for coverage issues elsewhere in the county.
We have also continued to increase the Sheriff’s budget and, as a result, have continued to see increased coverage from the Sheriff in District 2. Recently, we received a large federal grant with the assistance of Senator Lindsey Graham, which will immediately add an additional eight deputies. In short, we continue to focus on public safety, and have made significant funding improvements in those critical areas.
Of note to Daniel Island, we also added positions and funding in the mosquito abatement department, which although is not a large budgetary issue, it is one that all of us on the island are aware of during “hatch off” season from the salt marsh mosquitos. I believe our mosquito abatement program is strong and effective and this will just make it stronger.
In 2017, we finally saw large equipment and construction on Clements Ferry Road Phase I. I am advised that it is going well and know our neighbors on that road look forward to its completion. Design of Phase II is also going well, and I am hopeful that Phase II construction will seamlessly begin as Phase I ends.
Going into 2018, I believe our council will be more focused than ever on “smart growth.” That is, our growth has exceeded our capacity in many ways. Growth for growth’s sake is not positive. High paying jobs balanced against its impact on our already overtaxed infrastructure should guide our plans and decisions going forward. I invite your thoughts on any of these issues.
I am looking forward to 2018 and stand ready if you have any questions.
As always, thank you for the opportunity to serve.
Josh Whitley, a Daniel Island resident, has represented District 2 on Berkeley County Council since 2015. He is currently chairman of the Berkeley County Council Finance Committee and past chairman of the Berkeley County Council Human Resources and Purchasing Committee.