Irmo police get salary boost

By Al Dozier

The Irmo Town Council Tuesday adjusted the starting salary for police officers from $40,000 to $44,000 in a continued effort to encourage retention and provide strong support for the department.

“Retention is difficult,” said Councilman Bill Danielson “This is important stuff. We are doing a good job.”

Councilwoman Bard Waldman said “this is a good start” in providing law enforcement with continued support.

The council also approved a proposal to reorganize space within the police department offices and replace old furniture. The $43,000 project will add more cubicles and working space within the growing police department.

The council also approved an increase in the salary for the town’s Municipal Judge to $8,750 a quarter, up from approximately $7,500.

In other action, the council approved a budget in the amount of $171,750 for the 2023 Okra Strut Festival, which is continuing to attract large crowds.

“We are excited,” Okra Strut Commission Chairman Mike Ward said, citing continued improvements during the past two years.

“2021 was good. 2022 was better,” he said. He predicted 2023 will be “great.”

It will be the 49th anniversary of the popular festival.

The council agreed to submit offers to entertainers: the Spin Doctors not to exceed $25,000, KT Tunstall not to exceed $35,000, and Mickey Guyton, not to exceed $50, 000.

After a lengthy discussion, the council deferred the final reading of an ordinance on zoning and land development for conditional use of townhouses. The council will seek a clearer explanation of conditional uses when the next council workshop is held.

The council approved the final reading of an ordinance that will remove mini-warehouses and self-storage units as a conditional use and place them under special exceptions requiring zoning board approval.

The council approved the use of $43,300 in Hospitality Funds to refurbish and repair holiday decorations. This would convert the annual decorations along Lake Murray Boulevard, Woodrow Street and St. Andrews Road to LED lighting.

The council also approved a contract with First Tryon Advisors, LLC. Not to exceed $20,000 to provide independent municipal financial advice and provide a Capital Planning Model. The contract was sought as the town embarks on new construction of town hall offices.

A proposal by Councilman Erik Sickinger to amend the town’s ordinance to restrict water discharge that could impact a neighbor in a residential area failed to pass for lack of a second.

During the public comment period, the council continued to hear concerns about break-ins and other criminal activity in the Beacon Hill and Harbison Gardens area.

One resident complained that a neighbor had a machine gun.

“We are dealing with a ticking time bomb,” she said.

Other residents said they were afraid to walk around the neighborhoods at night. They called for more lighting and security cameras.

Mayor Barry Walker said the town is well aware of the problems and recently held meetings with various organizations involved with activities in the neighborhood. One of the problems is that the jurisdiction is divided between Richland and Lexington counties.

“We are not ignoring your complaints,” Walker told the residents.

One resident complimented the Irmo Police Department on the handling of a fatal shooting on Valentine’s Day in the Kroger parking lot on St. Andrews Road. An arrest was made soon after the assault.

The following new in-town businesses were recognized during the meeting: Cava Mezza Grill, 952 Lake Murray Boulevard; Direct Accommodations, LLC., 7228 Woodrow St.; Dynamite Kids Afterschool, 10071 Broad River Road; Edima Cleaning Services, 11 Kenton Rive; Floyd Brace Co., 8000 Broad River Road; My Purpose Counseling, 1180 Columbia Ave.; Nails By Tracy, 107 North Royal Tower Drive; Rider Family Chiropractic, 7839 Broad River Drive.

Fleet Feet was recognized as the February 2023 Small Business of the Month.

Wrapped by Trish was recognized as Artist of the Month.

The council presented the National Kidney Foundation with proceeds from the 2023 Chili Cook-off.

The council approved a proclamation recognizing March as Bleeding Disorder Awareness Month.

Community connections recognized during the meeting included: Irmo’s Black History Exhibit at the library; Summer Enrichment Camps Expo; Unity in the Community/Irmo’s Got Talent (April 8); and Irmo International Festival (April 30).