By Al Dozier


The Irmo Town Council Tuesday bypassed a tax advisory committee recommendation on the distribution of accommodation tax funds and chose to make its own choices.

The council had two pools of accommodation tax funds to distribute to organizations that promote tourism.

The committee, which is appointed by the council, recommended that the largest pool, $45,000, be distributed as follows: $24,000 to Lake Murray Country; $15,000 to the Okra Strut Festival; and $6,000 to the Greater Irmo Chamber of Commerce. But the council chose to allocate $24,000 to the Okra Strut, $15,000 to Lake Murray County, and $6,000 to the chamber.

A smaller pool of $10,758 was allocated to the chamber, though Lake Murray Country was also a choice the council could consider but chose not to include in the allocation.

The choices reflect an ongoing rift with some council members and Lake Murray Country by some council members who feel Irmo is not being promoted enough in the organization’s advertising campaigns.

Councilman Barry Walker Sr. disagreed with that assessment and said the council is “burning bridges.”

In other action, the council amended a new ordinance governing fireworks that would allow regular use of  “safe and sane” fireworks defined as “non-propellant or explosive.” They would include sparklers, smokeballs, snake-type fireworks, ground-spinning fireworks, and pinwheels.

The revised ordinance prohibits regular fireworks except on July 4 from 2 pm until midnight and on New Year’s Eve from 7 pm to 1 am ‘The ordinance received third-reading approval.

The council gave second reading to another ordinance that puts fireworks in the town’s noise ordinance, providing law enforcement with the authority to intervene when fireworks are disturbingly loud.

The council gave final reading approval to participation in Lexington County’s Community Cat Program, which provides for neutering and vaccinations for outdoor cats.

The council appointed Jana Medlin to the Tax Advisory Committee.

During the public comment period, Irmo resident George Glassmeyer expressed concerns about the response citizens receive when making  911 emergency calls. He said the emergency operators often spend too much time gathering caller background information instead of addressing emergencies, and sometimes seem unfamiliar with locations in Irmo that should be easily identifiable.

The council agreed to review the problems. Local law enforcement officials invited the council to pay a visit to the emergency response center.