September 2011

SEPTEMBER 2011: Mayor - Hilton Head and Bluffton

Author: Drew Laughlin and Lisa Sulka | Photographer: Photography by Anne

Drew Laughlin – Hilton Head Island


Normally I devote this column to a single issue, but this month I would like to address several town issues that may be of interest to you.

Q: What is the status of the upcoming Port Royal Sound Beach Fill Project?
A: Four bids were received for the Port Royal Sound Shoreline and Rehabilitation Project, and Great Lakes Dredge and Dock of Oak Brook, Illinois was the low bidder at $8,187,000. This amount represents a unit cost for the sand and is slightly lower than the town’s most recent project in 2007. Town Council’s decision to pursue an alternate work window in the fall 2011 contributed to the lower pricing. The timing of the due date and work window maximized the competition. Great Lakes Dredge and Dock will conclude its current project in Nags Head, North Carolina just prior to ours, which will make dredging plants available.

Q: Why did the town recently refund bonds, and what is the town’s current bond rating?
A: The town’s recent bond refunding represents a present value savings of 5.16 percent and will save the town $579,040. These savings are important to the Capital Improvement Program as the town seeks to reinvigorate the local economy and encourage redevelopment. In conjunction with the refunding, all three national bond agencies recently affirmed the town’s general obligation bond ratings and rating outlook. Moody’s rated the town Aaa (judged to be the highest quality with minimum credit risk), and Fitch Rating and Standard & Poor’s issued AA ratings. The town’s recent improvements in tourism-based revenues and its efforts to create savings in planned expenditures during the economic downturn contributed to the strong bond ratings.

Q: What is the status of the Residential Recycling Initiative?
A: The first quarter of the residential recycling initiative has come to a close, and the results are in. A total of 7, 318 accounts have been initiated and 472.66 tons of recycling have been collected as of July 31, 2011. Prior to the town having a residential waste and recycling franchise agreement, our reports showed that haulers collectively reported an average 31 tons of residential recycling per month. Compared to our current average of 118.16 tons per month, thus far, the town has increased its percentage of recycling by 281 percent. The initiative will continue to grow as we progress into the second quarter as residents’ current existing contracts with other haulers expire and more new accounts are initiated under the franchise agreement.

Lisa Sulka – Bluffton


Before I begin, I want to congratulate CB2/CH2 for five great years. This magazine is a breath of fresh air, and I am honored to be one of the contributing writers on a monthly basis. Way to go team. I look forward to many years to come.

Now on with my update on our strategic plan for the Town of Bluffton. This month I will speak about our fourth goal, which is “Local Economy Expansion and Diversification.” The objectives are as follows: attraction of new businesses to Bluffton that are consistent with our vision and plans, more sustainable primary job opportunities/careers for residents, more opportunities for minority owned businesses, expansion of medical/healthcare related businesses, and retention and growth of locally owned businesses. These objectives mean so much to our citizens, enabling them to work near home, showing that town government supports locally owned businesses, and providing a more diverse economy and local tax base, which will also reduce the property tax burden.

Stating the objectives of this goal is very pro-active on behalf of the town, but what have we done over the past years to achieve some of these? We have obtained grant funding for our Capital Improvement Plan and Neighborhood Stabilization Program and we continually market Bluffton as “business friendly.” The town is in the final stages of overhauling our Zoning and Development Standards ordinance; we overhauled our Business License ordinance and added an economic development and incentive component; we have updated our purchasing ordinance and added preferences for local vendors and minority/disadvantaged vendors; and we successfully negotiated a land swap and cost sharing agreement with Care Core National.

Since our plan update, we have asked our town manager to create an economic development strategy and policy. We believe that it is time to start branding Bluffton as the perfect place to live and start or relocate a business. When this is completed, we will have a working document to go out and recruit technology- or knowledge-based businesses and hopefully expand our medical and healthcare business as well.

Learn more by visiting our website,, and please provide any input that can help us with this goal and others.

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