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SUNSET BEACH—Town councilman Mike Williams has taken issue with Mayor Richard Cerrato.
“I want to assure everyone here tonight that neither I nor any council members sitting up here tonight has ever done anything in violation of closed-meeting laws,” Williams said, citing a story in last week’s Beacon in which Cerrato accused the town board and staff of “backroom games” after Williams was unanimously appointed in open session Jan. 7 to serve as board representative on the Grand Strand Area Transportation Study (GSATS) technical advisory committee.
Council also approved a resolution appointing Williams on Monday night.
Cerrato took issue after town administrator Gary Parker told GSATS officials at their Jan. 11 meeting that Cerrato wasn’t supposed to be there.
Cerrato faulted the town board for not clarifying at its Jan. 7 meeting that council intended for Williams to be the only representative at GSATS meetings from there on.
Williams said minutes from the town board’s Jan. 7 meeting state fellow council member Karen Joseph made a motion to go into closed session for personnel reasons.
“We discussed personnel issues, and that was all that was discussed,” he said, citing the same paper had a story about a superior court judge winning a libel lawsuit for $105,000.
“Mayor, if you have something to say, say it to us,” said Williams, who also told Cerrato to stop making false accusations.
Cerrato, who presided over the Jan. 7 meeting when the board chose Williams to represent it at GSATS, said he’s been a member of the committee for six months.
“I went to that meeting not knowing I was replaced,” he said.
Parker and town council member Carol Scott, however, pointed out that Mayor Pro Tem Lou DeVita, as well as Williams, were appointed to represent the town at those meetings last June.
Parker said Monday the town was advised, “only one member is desired by GSATS, unless council directs otherwise.”
“When this subject first came up, it was the clear intention of council to have Lou and Mike represent us in all matters related to the extended transportation district,” Scott said. “That was clear, Rich. You were involved in that discussion.
“There’s no conspiracy; nothing is going on, and I am so tired of all these things,” said Scott, who also cited recent letters to the editor.
“We need to get over this,” she said. “This is not fair to our community. We need to stop doing all of this.”
The town board also approved a resolution fully supporting the NCDOT in pursuing a funding proposal for installing a roundabout at Sunset Boulevard and Shoreline Drive East.
The town would match an as yet-to-be determined cost for this project.
NCDOT officials gave a presentation about the roundabout, with the preliminary estimated cost at $572,000.
Town resident Joseph Santavicca questioned whether the roundabout would alleviate a problem he has yet to hear about.
Former town councilman Ed Gore said roundabouts are the safest, most efficient way to move traffic and allow pedestrians to cross.
DeVita questioned the impact construction would have on traffic.
Laura Lewis is a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.