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Pawleys Island: Town wants county to share cost of security cameras

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

Before the town of Pawleys Island spends $4,600 to install surveillance cameras at the popular south end beach access, it will ask Georgetown County, which owns the parking lot, to share the $185 monthly cost of operating the devices.

The county administrator won’t say no, though he wasn’t ready this week to say yes either.

Town Council members want to install the cameras before Memorial Day, but they stopped short of approving the project because they thought it would reduce any bargaining power the town has with the county.

The town installed a four-camera unit at the First Street access last year. It sends live video to the police department and to the police officers’ smartphones. It also records the video. Because they went up after the peak tourist season, police have yet to use the cameras in any incidents. But the council decided last month to install more cameras at the south end parking lot, the largest free beach access in the county.

It will take two sets of cameras to cover the parking lot, Chief Mike Fanning said. The vendor agreed to cut the installation price from $2,000 to $1,500, but it will cost an estimated $2,100 to bore under the porous surface of the lot to provide power to a set of cameras at the southernmost end of the lot. Electrical work brings the total to $4,600.

As the property owner, the county will have to approve the installation. Council Member Glennie Tarbox suggested at a meeting this week that the town ask the county to help with the cost. Council Member Howard Ward said they should talk with County Council Member Steve Goggans, whose district includes the town.

Town Attorney David DuRant recommended they talk with County Administrator Sel Hemingway. “See what they’ll pony up for,” he said.

Hemingway hadn’t heard from the town when asked about the concept. He was quick to agree to let the town do any electrical work. He wasn’t sure whether a cost-sharing idea would need to go to County Council for approval.

Town Council voted to approve the cameras with a contribution from the county.

“You have to remember one thing in that situation,” Ward said. “The county’s going to have Litchfield down their neck.”

Litchfield Beaches Property Owners Association plans to fund license plate cameras that the county sheriff’s office will monitor.

The town installed a set of those cameras in 2013 and it credits them with reducing break-ins at vacant beach houses this winter to zero. There were dozens of break-ins in the Litchfield Beaches this year. The sheriff’s office arrested a Murrells Inlet man last month on 25 burglary charges in connection with those break-ins.

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