Managing the impacts of COVID-19 is a top priority for the county this year and next. This includes:
Being proactive in slowing the spread of the disease, allowing tourism and business to return and the ability to open schools safely
Managing anticipated revenue shortfalls from the shutdown and property tax collection, and preserving jobs
Being adaptable to changing circumstances during our recovery
My second priority is strategic growth management, which is an ongoing priority for Beaufort County. This includes:
Land preservation and protection of our natural resources
Affordable/ Attainable housing that meets the needs of our workforce and families
Fully funding our public school system to include impact fees toward capital improvements needed as a result of population growth
My third priority is contributing to a constructive and positive culture within the county leadership and administration. This includes:
Using my management experience. I have worked on management teams that overcame dysfunction and restored productivity
Fostering an atmosphere of trust, transparency, cooperation by holding myself to the highest standards and setting the expectation of others
Working with others to set clear, attainable goals, and making sure our actions align with those goals
I was asked...
The Island Packet-
What is your growth philosophy?
In Beaufort County rapid population growth has defined this area for the past 10 years, specifically in Bluffton. It has impacted nearly every aspect of our lives from the safety of our roads, the quality of our schools, preserving our natural resources as well as supporting our economy and providing revenue. I would like to see the county update our strategic plan, including zoning and development designations to work in concert with the plans of our municipalities and the school district.
Much of the frustration we have been feeling about our rate of growth is related to a classic case of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing. Specifically in regard to schools. Large housing developments are given a green light without appropriate consideration of the impacts on our already overburdened school system. We need to be more proactive in communicating with one another, including our neighbors in Jasper and Hampton counties.
I was asked...
Island Packet -What will you do to ensure that residents whose jobs have gone away during the pandemic can avoid eviction/
The lack of affordable housing is a barrier for families in Beaufort County, especially now. The County commissioned a housing study in 2018 which indicated that among renter households, 47% spend over 30% of their income on housing, and 19% spend more than 50% on housing. Homeowners are cost burdened as well. Being in this position as a county puts us at a disadvantage when there is an economic downturn.
While the County Council doesn’t have a direct role to play in providing rental, utility and food assistance for residents, the Council can play a role in creating a more stable housing market by working to ensure there is an available market of affordable/ attainable housing to meet the demand in our community. This isn’t a short-term solution. If this issue had been addressed previously, we would be in a better position today. What we do have in Beaufort County is a support network of organizations that do support residents with food, rent and utility assistance. The County can partner with these organizations in the short term to assist with awareness and relief efforts.