"It doesn't matter who you are, you've got to card everyone."
Bouncer Kimo Kreis after 23-year-old Terrell Lamont Wright allegedly opened fire at O'Malley's on King Street after Kreis asked the man for his ID. The gunfire wounded a 19-year-old girl sitting inside the club. Police say the girl hadn't been drinking and was allowed to be in the club. Source: The Post and Courier
Schools in $28 million budget crunch
An additional $28 million will be needed from local taxpayers (though most won't come from homeowners) to pay for school district costs, finance staff told the district last week in a first look at the budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.
The $318.5 million operating budget includes new money for salary increases (including state-mandated increases for teachers), more than $4 million in new costs for charter schools, and nearly $2 million needed to replace lost revenue from the state. That is, if the legislature makes good on $10.4 million promised to offset the $12.3 million of state revenue the district will lose due to a funding formula that benefits rural districts.
"They continue to cut funding and demand that we spend more money," says board member Gregg Meyers.
The silver lining for Charleston taxpayers is that the sales tax approved by voters in November will offset the operating cost for the school district, including the increase. The black cloud is that the rest of the taxpayers (business owners, those with vacation or rental property, and those with personal property like boats and cars) will not have the same out.
And all taxpayers, including homeowners, will be responsible for paying taxes on the district's debt. That's estimated at more than $60.5 million next year, which will require an additional $16.3 million from taxpayers over last year. That's going to mean an extra $38 from a taxpayer with a $200,000 home (though the money homeowners will save on the school district's operating costs will likely swallow the hike).
Any news of an increase is bad news, according to board member Arthur Ravenel Jr., who made no secret that he's looking for a budget without a tax hike for anyone, be they businessmen or homeowners. "Go back to your drawing board and see if you can bring us a budget that doesn't reflect a millage increase," he told district finance chief Don Kennedy.
The board had planned a special meeting to discuss the budget and firm up numbers for May 21. Check out news.ccpblogs.com for updates on the budget talks. —Greg Hambrick
That's how much was cut from the National Hurricane Center's budget this year, according to Director Bill Proenza. Meanwhile, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the agency that oversees the hurricane center, is spending $4 million on a 200th anniversary media campaign. Source: The Associated Press
Green Goes Mainstream
It could be the doomsday hurricane season predictions, the ridiculous high tides, or Al Gore's Hollywood debut, but the environment has leaped from "just one of the issues" a few years ago to the forefront of the news. Just this week in South Carolina...
• Clemson and Coastal Carolina universities have teamed up with Santee Cooper to build a wind-energy research facility on undeveloped Waties Island in Horry County. The power company has appropriated $10,000 for a three-tier anemometer, or wind gauge, which the colleges will monitor and maintain throughout the year-long study. Researchers hope that the data gathered will encourage construction of coastal and offshore wind farms as a clean energy alternative.
• Newly formed alternative energy company Carolina-Pacific LLC has targeted Kingstree in Williamsburg County as the proposed location of their new biofuel facilities, utilizing switchgrass to distill ethanol, a grain that generates ten times more fuel per acre than corn. The company's strategic plan calls for eight biodiesel plants generating 58 million gallons per year and bringing nearly 2,000 direct and indirect jobs to Williamsburg County. It would be the first major switchgrass project in the nation.
• South Carolina has joined The Climate Registry, voluntarily tracking and reporting the state's emission of greenhouse gases for a national database. The project will hopefully encourage industries to establish baseline emissions and then demonstrate reductions. Indirect emitters like municipalities, universities, and office complexes can also participate, demonstrating their environmental responsibility.
• The Charleston Civic Design Center (CCDC) and Clemson Architecture Center are cosponsoring an exhibit entitled "What Does Climate Change Mean to Charleston?" On display from May 24 to June 29 at CCDC's 85 Calhoun St. headquarters, the show illustrates the Architecture Center's study of potential urban design impacts of climate change on the Charleston peninsula, looking at four scenarios based on potential sea-level change predictions over the next 200 years. See www.charlestoncivicdesigncenter.org for more.
• Chad Norman, a local environmentalist, recently launched www.gogreencharleston.org, a website utilizing social networking to educate Charlestonians on lessening their consumption footprint and planning for a sustainable future. It provides news, discussion, interactive maps, and a platform to inspire people to act upon their green impulses. Posts include info on Charleston Freecycle, an online swap-meet, weekly photo logs of recyclable trash sitting on the curb, and the Little Green Bag project (littlegreenbagproject.com), a free eco-friendly bag shoppers can use instead of disposable grocery bags. —Stratton Lawrence