IOP Dwelling Data

This data comes via Sandy Stone (a former council member who did a great job during his 4 years on council.)

There are 4300 dwellings on the IOP:

Owner occupied         1450

2nd homes                   1350

Rentals                          1500

It goes without saying, but many of the 2nd homes are rented out.

Budget Increases Under Each Councilmember

What follows is a list of those running for city council who currently or previously served on council.   After each person’s name is the number of budget cycles he or she participated in and how much the budget increased during their time in office.  The last column is column #2 divided by column #1.

And just to be clear, no council member can increase the budget by themself.  It takes 5 votes to pass a budget.  I don’t think there is a person on this list who voted against every budget, but I seem to recall Ryan Buckhannon and Jimmy Carroll voting against at least 1 budget (and maybe more.)  Unfortunately I just don’t have the time to go back and review years of council minutes to see who voted no.  If someone would like to do this, I will gladly post the results.

Jimmy Carroll          6 yrs        32.4%      5.4%

Dick Cronin              9 yrs        34.4%      3.8%

Barbara Bergwerf   8 yrs        34.4%      4.3%

Ryan Buckhannon   9 yrs        30.4%      3.4%

Patrick Harrington  4 yrs        17.8%      4.4%

Mike Loftus                8 yrs        28.1%      3.5%

Ralph Piening            4 yrs          5.5%      1.3%

Final comments:  Buckhannon was on council longer than 9 years, but the city website only has the city budget online since fiscal year 2008.  I have only included Cronin’s time as mayor.  I believe he was on council for 3 years before being elected Mayor, but I could be mistaken.


I, like every candidate running for office supports improving transparency in government. No matter who wins, I hope they will take this pledge seriously and actually do something.

City Council met last night and a video of the meeting is posted on That is great, but we can do even better. The video is 75 minutes long. Most who have jobs just don’t have the time to watch this.

But anyone can read the minutes very quickly and learn what happened. Our city clerk prepares the minutes and she does an excellent job with the minutes rarely needing any revision. These minutes really “put the cheese on the cracker.”

The problem is, the minutes are not posted until “approved” by council or a committee (if the minutes are from a committee meeting.) So, they are approved a month later and then posted sometime after that. Whatever is in the minutes will already be acted upon at the following meeting before we get a chance to read what is going on. This needs to be more transparent.

When the next council is seated, a motion needs to be made to post the minutes online within 3 (or 5) business days of the meeting. The city must make it as easy as possible for the residents to know what is going on.

Campaign Disclosure

Since one of the tenants of my campaign is transparency, I think I should apply this to myself as well.  So in the interests of full disclosure, I note that I have hired a campaign manager.  His name is KarlDavid Axelrove and he has given me invaluable advice.  I learned above all else, “Money is the mother’s milk of politics.”

To that end the constant fundraising is finally starting to pay off.  I have just hired my first 2 campaign staffers.  Prior to today, they were working for cookies.  Money changes everything!


City Budget

I spent the weekend pouring over the old city budgets.  They are all available online here.

A bit of background before getting to the numbers.  The fiscal year for the city runs July 1 to June 30.  So, city council started working on Fiscal Year 2017-18 in January of this year. In the interest of clarity, I am going to call the current budget we are operating under Fiscal Year 2018, but realize that it started several months ago on July 1, 2017.

What follows is total city expenditures budgeted by city council for each fiscal year.  That is, this is what city council planned to spend.   Spending could, in fact, be more or less because of all kinds of circumstances, but what these numbers represent is the fiscal intent of city council.

Here are the numbers in dollar amounts:

2009                                    8,066,663

2010                                    8,067,982

2011                                    8,347,497

2012                                    8,511,235

2013                                    8,472,581

2014                                    8,914,839

2015                                    9,529,908

2016                                   10,331,061

2017                                   10,873,418

2018                                   11,221,649

From 2009 to 2012 the budget grew by $444,572, or 5.51%.  These are the years I was on council and involved in the budget process.  The budget is the result of the work of 9 members of council, so I don’t want this to sound like this small increase was all because of my efforts.  It wasn’t.

This is pretty much right in line with inflation, maybe even a bit less, depending on whether you are using the CPI (Consumer Price Index) or the Federal Reserve’s preferred PCE (Personal Consumption Expenditure) which is usually lower than the CPI.

From 2013 to 2016 the budget grew by $1,858,480 or 21.9%

Whoa!  What happened to the budget in 2013?  The citizens elected two new members to city council, Jimmy Carroll and Jimmy Ward when they defeated the incumbents Brian Duffy and Ralph Piening in the November 2011 election.  Jimmy Ward, in particular, campaigned incessantly as a “fiscal conservative.”  Carroll and Ward joined Ryan Buckhannon and Mike Loftus who also call themselves “fiscal conservatives.”  Upon joining city council in January 2012 they began work on the 2013 budget and it came in less than the budget for 2012.  The budget for 2014, though, saw quite an increase.

Then, for budget year 2015, the city added two more new city councilmembers in Patrick Harrington and Sandy Ferencz who replaced Sandy Stone and Doug Thomas when the latter two decided not to seek re-election in November 2013.

From 2015 to 2017 the budget grew by $1,343,510 or 14.1%

This budget cycle now had 5 “fiscal conservatives” on city council, a majority! They could have worked together and controlled the spending, but instead the spending continued to increase.

For budget year 2017 council added 2 new members in Ted Kinghorn and Carol Rice when Ryan Buckhannon and Mike Loftus decided not to run for re-election.  Kinghorn and Rice took office in Jan 2016 and started work on the budget for 2018.

With these 2 new members on council the budget grew by$348,231 or 3.2%

Here’s the point: the city is not growing and there have been no disasters but until this fiscal year (2018) the budget is rapidly growing.  In fact, it is growing 2.7 times the rate of inflation when we look at the budget growth from 2013 to 2018.

A lot of this growth is in personnel costs and cannot be scaled back without letting employees go.  I don’t think anyone is advocating that, especially since the IOP has great employees.  It seems to me efforts should be made to contain future increases.

Marina Joint Ventures Lease

Posted below is a copy of the lease Marina Joint Ventures has with the city.  I have read through it, but I am not a lawyer and I could have missed a thing or two.

One thing that jumps out at me is there is NO requirement to rent a slip to an IOP resident (you know, the people who bought and own the property.)  In fact, it does not appear there is any requirement to rent a slip to a private boat owner at all.  Presumably the tenant could rent every slip to a subleased business if he could find enough of them to fill all the slips.

The contract defines gross profit as sales of goods and services minus the cost of the goods.  In the original contract the tenant was to pay the city 15% of any gross profit over $450,000.  The tenant is to provide an annual financial statement provided by his financial officer.  In addition, the tenant is to provide the city with annual audited financial statement.

If you look at the first amendment on page 23, you will see the lease was changed to permit the rental of Low Speed Vehicles (LSV).  This has not been done to date, but certainly could be.  They would have to be parked somewhere.

The lease was amended a 2nd time to change the the profit structure.  Page 25 shows the city is to get 2% of any gross profit over $500,000.  Think about this for a minute.  If the gross profit were to come 1 million dollars, the city would get a whopping $10,000 extra.  It is not clear why this change was made.

Another part of this 2nd amendment says the tenant no longer has to provide an audited financial statement, but must still provide a statement from his own financial officer.  (See page 26.)  I wonder why this change was made.

Finally, the lease was amended a 4th time and now the city is to receive 15% of gross profit over 1 million dollars.   So if the gross profit were $2 million, the city would get an extra $150,000.

I do not know if the city has ever received any of these profit toggles.  Perhaps someone reading this knows and would like to comment.

MJV_Lease_With_4th_Ammendmet-scanned 2.22.2016

What Should the Marina be?

I had productive discussions with Elizabeth Campsen, Randy Bell, Mike Loftus, Catherine Malloy, Brian Duffy and a number of other residents this weekend.  Thanks to everyone for talking to me.

What I came away with from all these discussions was the following:  the residents of the IOP need to decide what they want their marina to be before putting any more money into the site.

Do you want it to be a somewhat quiet area primarily for the use of residents to launch boats and hang out with our families?  It would not be a cash generating machine, but would have to generate some money to cover maintenance and upkeep.

Or do you want it to be primarily a commercial district where the focus is on visitors and generating money?  In this scenario it could generate a ton of cash and under proper leasing terms a lot of money would be paid to the city.  There will be (is) a lot more traffic on Waterway Blvd and residents will not get priority.

These are the 2 options.  Neither one exists currently.  Right now we are closer to the second option except that the tenants don’t generate a lot of money for the city.  Several people have asked for the financial statements of the tenants but have not been able to obtain them.

The tenants could easily clear up this picture by releasing their financials.

I want to make it clear that my preferred option is the first one.  I don’t want more commercial activity at the marina.  I seriously doubt that short term renters would stop coming here if there was not easy access to parasailing, kayaking, paddleboarding, deep sea fishing, boat rentals, etc.  I am not saying all these activities need to go.  City council, by listening to the wishes of the residents, needs to decide how much, if any, commercial activity will occur at the marina.

I really think this is what the referendum is all about.  I would appreciate any and all comments.  Just mash the reply button!

Litter on a Stick!


In about 2 days a tidal wave of campaign signs will wash ashore and cover the Isle of Palms.  The campaign is on!

My campaign is in desperate need of volunteers.  The following positions are open:

  • Statewide chairperson
  • County chairperson
  • City chairperson
  • Precinct captains
  • Block captains
  • Household captains

In addition to these political positions, I could also use the following:

  • Executive chef
  • Personal assistant
  • Media affairs coordinator
  • Driver
  • Masseuse
  • Clothing coordinator
  • Pool boy

Let the games begin!  In all seriousness, good luck to all the candidates.

How is a Marina Tenant Like a Wall Street Bank?

Answer:  Both have figured out how to socialize their losses/costs and how to privatize their gains!

This is ridiculous and it needs to stop.  The residents of IOP will pay for all the repairs and beautification which will permit the tenants to make a lot more money.  All of which will probably go in the tenant’s pockets because it appears the “profit toggle” has never been met.  This is a sweetheart deal any business owner can only dream about!

So the city wants the residents to finance a $5.5 large renovation so more access and slips will be available for Mt. Pleasant residents.  Have we lost our mind?