CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - State Infrastructure Board Chairman Vincent Graham answered questions over the phone Saturday morning, one day after the deadline set by Charleston County Chairman Elliott Summey had passed.
On Wednesday, Summey demanded a date be set for a meeting within 10 days, and gave Graham until Friday at 5 p.m. to set that meeting. According to Summey, Graham did not contact him by the deadline.
Graham said he had already let Summey know what was going on.
"I let him know in a meeting before the press conference that the deadline was extended and that we would call a board meeting the week after next or the following week," Graham said.
Late Saturday afternoon, Summey said Graham did not give a specific timeframe.
"He didn't say when...he could have easily sent an email saying when we could meet," Summey said.
Graham explained meetings with the State Infrastructure Bank board can't be set quickly.
"There are six other board members coming from the corners of the state," Graham said. "They work as volunteers and we have the make the meeting work for them."
Graham said he expected a meeting will happen soon, probably around the first week of October.
Graham explained he felt there was a reason to cancel Tuesday's meeting with the SIB board, a decision that led Summey to schedule the press conference with Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg on Wednesday afternoon.
"Because they hadn't given us a plan," Graham said. "They didn't have enough other items on the agenda to warrant a meeting. Then, they sent a proposed plan on Thursday."
Summey countered that Charleston is the state's biggest county with a budget of more than $100 million, adding a meeting to discuss a project that would cost four times the county's budget should be reason enough.
Graham insisted a meeting is coming soon and he doesn't understand why Summey and others are in a hurry to meet considering he pushed their deadline to the next meeting.
"This is the citizens of South Carolina that we represent," Graham said. "It's their money. Our board is thoughtful and deliberate and we want to be methodical in our meetings."
Summey and Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg sent the bank board a letter Thursday explaining how the county and city would work together to cover the shortfall if the bank board gave the county the $420 million.
That money would complete Phase I of the project, extending I-526 from West Ashley to Johns Island in the vicinity of Maybank Highway.
"We have a contract from 2006 that says that money's already ours," Summey said. "They required us to put up a $117 million match, which has occurred already."
Summey said they feel they already have a partnership with SIB and the SCDOT.
"Second of all, we know how fast this community is growing. The Tri-County is growing so quickly, 43 people a day move here," he said. "We need multitudes of projects down here, not just the Mark Clark."
"The DOT has told us they have a way to not only build the first portion of the Mark Clark with the $420 million that has already been allocated and promised by the SIB, but also to finance the $305 million overrun without it costing directly the citizens of Charleston County. So we have to keep pushing forward," Summey said.