SURFSIDE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Discussions are expected to take place at Tuesday night's town council meeting over highly-debated topics, beach tents and the city administrator's duties among them.
The topic of the city administrator's ability to appoint and remove department heads without the consultation of town council is up for a proposed change. Tuesday night is the first reading of an ordinance to require the town administrator to receive approval from town council before appointing or dismissing department heads.
The ordinance states town council discussed adding this to the code in multiple meetings over the past several months, but council member Julie Samples said that nothing was ever voted on.
Mayor Bob Childs for Surfside Beach said some members of council feel they should have a say in the hiring and firing of department heads, but Childs said personally, he likes the way things stand now, with the city administrator not being required to consult council before any decisions are made.
"If the administrator is going to run the town, he or she should have the hiring and dismissal of employees as they feel that's necessary," Childs said.
Samples agrees with Childs. She said town council is here to set policy, and bringing elected officials into that process is a "recipe for disaster," and "inappropriate."
"If the majority of council feels that that's necessary, then I certainly have no problem with it and go along with council," Childs said. "I guess each of us have our own opinion on why it should go a certain way."
There was a time before that the city administrator's duties did require what the proposal is asking for. Randle Stevens said over the phone that he is in favor of the proposed change and wants to go back to that. He said it is a necessary move by council because they have to protect citizens from "erroneous termination of department heads," and he thinks this will help protect the town from lawsuits.
If this proposal passes its first reading Tuesday, it will go up for a second reading at the next town council reading.
Also up for another reading is the proposal to reverse the beach tent ban. The ordinance, which allows for an eight-foot emergency lane up against the sand dunes on the beach, then in front of that a special row designated for tents, passed a first reading at the last meeting.
Childs said this seems to be a compromise that everyone is happy with because initially, the town wasn't able to make everyone happy by completely doing away with tents, but also was having trouble finding a solution without some regulations.
"It went through unanimously on the first reading. We can't do any more than that," Childs said. "I think everybody gets what they want. The people who wanted the tents, they're going to have the tents. The people that were concerned the tents were all over the beach taking up an extraordinary amount of room, they couldn't put umbrellas, now they'll get their way."
If this ordinance passes, it will go into effect for next year. Childs said tents won't interfere all across the beach. If you want to bring a tent, this ordinance will allow you to do that, just in a designated area.
"It's the best we can do. I really feel that way," he said.
The town council meeting is at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.