Finances a top concern at Atlantic Beach council meeting

Atlantic Beach town council meeting Monday night.

ATLANTIC BEACH, S.C. (WPDE) - How to handle finances was a hot topic at Monday night's Atlantic Beach town council meeting, partly because the town is $868,000 in debt. The meeting lasted more than two hours, and there was a lot of bickering between council members, but they did manage to make some decisions.

Despite disagreements, town council passed a first reading of the budget. In it $174,000 is allocated to paying off their debt.

"The track that we're on, paying the amount of the debt down, having it allocated in the budget as such within a certain number of years if we stay on that track, then we're bound to have it eliminated," said Mayor Retha Pierce.

Another issue discussed was the fact that the town has not submitted a financial audit since the 2007 fiscal year. Council member Carolyn Cole pointed out pending legislation that puts their incorporation at risk because they haven't done so.

Near the end of the meeting they talked with a lawyer about doing an audit. Pierce said getting it done is a priority. "We just have seemingly factions that have been somehow divided in their thinking of perhaps how it should've gotten done, but now we need to come together on one accord. As Ms. Singletary, our municipal clerk, pointed out on the end there, we need to stay together and get this done."

Town council also voted to disband the Municipal Election Commission, saying the commission had acted improperly in setting a July 30 election date for Jake Evans' seat on council. He was elected mayor, but those election results were appealed, so he hasn't taken the seat yet.

The Memorial Day Bike Fest was also on the agenda. According to preliminary numbers Interim Town Manager Linda Cheatham said after expenses the town made a profit of about $43,000. They also had a total of 102 vendors that participated in the event.

Council also plans to bring back the Gullah Geechee festival the third Saturday of August.