Jimmy Carroll and IOPToday
Sullivan's Island Elementary School on to Moultrie High School and graduating from the College of Charleston in 1978 with a BA in Political Science.
After graduation from the College of Charleston while waiting to attend law school, I entered the real estate profession which is where I am today, 39 years later. After working for several companies, my mother and I started Carroll Realty in a small 500 sq ft office on Sullivan's Island with $20,000. As we slowly grew, we were able to purchase a prime waterfront property in 1986 at Breach Inlet which we then converted from a old gas station/bar into our office with a small marina behind it. In 1989, Hurricane Hugo wiped out our building, marina, our business and my home but by hard work, we rebuilt bigger and better. Designing a building that would maximize the location we had. Since then, I have served on many committees for the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors (CTAR)with later chairing many of the same committees. I also was elected as President of CTAR's Multiple Listing Service helping guide it into an internet based system and later serving as President of CTAR's 5000 members. Also during this time, I served 2 years as the East Cooper's Top Producer's Club and also served as President of East Cooper Habitat for Humanity. During all this time, I became a father to 3 great sons, Jimmy III now 27 and who is soon entering the Foreign Service, Winslow, 25, who is my protege in real estate, and Capers, 23 who is in his last year of college. While raising my sons, I helped coach youth sports here on the island and have also sponsored youth sports teams each sporting season since starting our company in 1981. In 2015, I sold my company to my other family members so I could have more free time. My sons, while they all had worked for the family business, did not want to own a vacation rental business, it is very time consuming and demanding. They are all pursuing their own personal interests. Other experiences include construction and development. From the time I started business, I learned the value of running a company, the value of having satisfied employees, customers and always meeting a payroll. Most importantly, I learned the value of budgeting for the normal years and for those times that are challenging. By challenging, i mean hurricanes and financial crashes. By being prepared financially with reserve money, I was able to thrive throughout my life. It is this background I want to bring to our city. We should run our city financially like we run our own personal lives. While I am not rich, I am not poor and have set myself up for life.
I am the only candidate to have grown up on the Isle of Palms. I have seen it grow from 300 residents in 1959 to over 4000 today. I have seen many a mayor and council interact over my lifetime. Some good, some not so good. I have served on several committees before being elected to council. I was first elected to Isle of Palms City Council in 2011. I was re-elected in 2015 and am currently in the middle of my second 4 year term. As a very successful businessman, I have seen the city make some serious mistakes in managing our properties. While we all had to rebuild after Hugo in 1989, the city had to rebuild it's public safety buildings in 1990. Since then, they had to be torn down due to deficiencies in construction and today, we are faced with yet another construction default and are in litigation. Who was in charge of this? When running a business, and the city is a business, it needs to be run efficiently and with end result being what is best for our residents. Today, all I hear about are wish lists by various council members, we have needs that should always come first and then we can address the wants, if we can afford them. I'd like to surround myself with those elected council members who each have expertise and put them where they can serve you, the city best. The same applies to boards and commissions, we have so many talented residents who want to serve our city but instead, we appoint those who are friends. A perfect case in point, is the real property committee, we have a commercial Realtor on there who strongly suggested our using triple net leases to the marina tenants, did we do it, no. I was one of two who voted against the 30 year lease extension. As a Realtor, as commercial property owner, as a marina owner, and as a self made businessman, I knew and suggested that we do a triple net lease, yet we gave it away and are stuck with those two leases. Since selling my business, and now serving on council, I promise to be a mayor as one who cares, one who will listen to our residents and make himself available. I want to have several time slots set up where anyone can come talk to me. Plus, I make myself available to my constituents anytime they call me. I will work on having a mayor's update in our local paper, i will strive to have a website that will allow residents to tell us the good and bad of what we are doing. I will gain nothing as being the mayor, however my goal is that of our vision statement, to work together in order to make sure our island residents always come first, and that we strive to keep the existing character of the island as a quality place to live and to protect the environment both on and around the island. Measures must be taken to guide development and preserve the quality of life for generations to come.
My family came to the Isle of Palms because my father quite high school to join the Navy upon the bombing of Pearl Harbor. One of his later postings was to Charleston and they had heard about the Isle of Palms. They rented a house the next day on the island even though Naval housing told them they should live in North Charleston or Hanahan to be close to the station. Growing up on a basically deserted island was like the show, "The Andy Griffith Show", it was a child's paradise. After 2 years, it was time to be transferred again, but after 22 years in the Navy, my parents said the Isle of Palms was home and my father retired from the Navy. We did not have anything, but due to a strong will to succeed, we built a family business that has served us well. I am the first to graduate from college, and now, my 3 sons have done so as well from the same college. The Isle of Palms is in my blood, I not only have lived here since 1959, I was educated here, I know and get along with everyone, I can talk to our public works personal as easily as to our governor. My gift is that of communication, that of being able to connect people to people. It's personal contacts that help me know those who live around us, not only here on the island but across Charleston and across the state. One doesn't get that from living here a few years, but from a lifetime.
I was instrumental in our new parking plan "C". While it is not perfect, it was a lot better than the previous ones. And, it still needs to be improved upon. I am totally for improving our needs first as opposed to our wants. Right now after all these recent storms, it is most apparent that we need to build up our emergency funds. Yes, I keep hearing we have a lot, but in reality, we had 2.3 million in the emergency fund and other funds that are there for other major cost like future fire equipment or public works trucks. We cannot rob Peter to pay Paul. Also since the last few years of storms and king tides, we need to evaluate and fix our drainage system. The island has infilled with many homes, many of the old wide open ditches have been filled in with smaller drainage pipes that do not sufficiently drain the water. There are about 1400 homes still on septic tanks, when these yards flood, the standing water is toxic. This should be a priority as opposed to spending almost a million dollars on a cardio workout room. The front beach rest rooms are mainly used by Charleston County residents, give Charleston County the restrooms and the land it sits on, that's another million saved that we can use to improve our infrastructure. Our beach paths are also in terrible shape, we need to improve these for our residents.
Tourism is a 19 billion dollar industry for the state, and provides 1 out of every 10 jobs. Horry County brings in the most, Charleston County brings in the second largest amount. It is our state's beaches that bring in the people. By law, we are to spend 40% of our island's share of ATAX funds in promoting our island. Right now, we are giving $522,000 to the CVB to promote our island. However, the balance we can use to offset our police, fire, sanitation, recreation and just this past year, $800,000 to the marina. We need to work with our sister coastal communities to get this law changed to allow us to use the bulk of these promotional funds to maintain our beaches. If we don't have a beach, we won't have tourism, if we don't have tourism, we will have to greatly increase our taxes. Tourism is the goose that lays the proverbial "Golden Egg". We do not need more promotion for our island, it is filled. Last year, our tourism funds were down, so far this year, we are flat.
We need to be careful in our spending. As per our hospitality tax which is 2%, what are we doing to promote our local brick and mortar businesses that pay taxes, hire locals, and serve us during the off season when things are slow? We should be hosting events in our city owned lots, like the vegetable market and or classic car and boat shows. That way instead of having food trucks, people can dine at our local businesses, not to mention, free parking.
I'm sorry but the marina referendum was killed before it got started by the city giving the two tenants a 30 year extension. This does not benefit our residents. It benefits the tenants. I was even for a long term lease to the tenants as long as they were responsible for everything, docks, dredging, taxes, insurance, maintenance, etc. A friend has the lease from the city of Charleston and that is what he has. I don't blame the tenants for having the lease, if I could have gotten that, i would have taken it too. I was all for our purchase of the marina, but the intent and purpose was to be for the benefit of island residents. Now, instead, the city entered into leases with no controls that allow multiple hidden businesses to work that bring in way too many cars that overflow our 5 acre lot. We have no idea of what kind or real income is coming in. Instead, I would rather our pay off the first bond, which we pay about $300,000 a year and then, spend that same amount into maintaining the marina and not going further into debt. I hate to keep harping on not if a hurricane hits, but when. When that happens, we will not have the tourism funds to pay the deficits there. Lets not go further into debt.
The answer to this is above.
I love the recreation center. My mom was one of the first recreation center directors. I played baseball and football there as a kid. It has grown into the center piece of our city assets and Norma Jean Page and her staff do a wonderful job keeping it up, not to mention all the programs and events. It was for the kids to play, now, we are trying to have something for everyone. In a way we do now, adult sports, yoga classes, tennis, Zumba, Keenagers groups,an award winning doggie park and more. We once had a pool referendum but it failed. There are some who'd like to see it happen again. I am all for referendums for big projects that will cost us all in more taxes. If the residents want it by referendum, then I'd agree with it. The College of Charleston took out it's pool because of maintenance costs. Pools are expensive. Now, we have someone wanting a new cardio fitness room that will eventually cost between $700,000 and a million. I go back to our needs verses our wants. We are not a country club, we are not Mt. Pleasant with 84,000 residents. How can we compete with fitness centers less than 10 miles away that cost $10 a month. Maybe, if some want such amenities, they could buy into the Wild Dunes or at least, it is something we could discuss with them. No matter what, the Isle of Palms and the Wild Dunes are still one community, we are 29451.
I am all for a vibrant business community, but realize as a businessman, those buildings are owned privately. We own the street, but we need to do whatever we can to make sure our businesses succeed. Having food trucks instead of letting local businesses cater just does not sit well with me. We need to host more events in the city lots that will bring more people to our town central. I look at the disaster of Sullivan's Island commercial district and parking, yet, it's booming. We can do better as a city to make this happen, but we need to engage our local businesses to see how we can work together to make this happen.