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Features : Letters to Editor Last Updated: Oct 2, 2013 - 10:42:37 AM

Letter to the editor - Oct 3, 2013
Oct 2, 2013 - 10:41:44 AM

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In favor annexation petition
I want to weigh in on the annexation issue. First, with all due respect to the writers of the letters to the editor in the September 26 - October 2 addition of the Daniel Island News, I am comfortable that my “moral compass” is in fine working order and I have no “vendetta” against Berkeley County. As a resident of Daniel Island, which accounts for about eight percent of the county population, I do not feel we have a moral obligation to pay twenty percent of the county’s property taxes. I am simply interested in gathering the facts to determine which county would be most advantageous for the Daniel Island residents. The only legal way to gather all the factual information we need to make an informed decision is to go through an organized process prescribed by the SC Legislature. Charleston County representatives have made it plain that they will not expend funds and make binding commitments until we petition for a formal study. This subject has been bantered back and forth for fifteen years and short of following the formal prescribed steps we will be dealing with conjecture and opinions as we have for the last 15 years.  According to Daniel Patrick Moynihan “You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.”
The revised estimated cost is now projected to be a $25,000 posted bond and a contingency fund of $25,000. If the full $50,000 is expended and split between the three associations on the island it will be nominal and potentially reimbursable. The nominal cost is a small amount to invest in this much needed study.
Linda and I joined several other brave pioneers in 1996 and purchased a lot on Daniel Island. We had our house built during 1997 and moved in right before Christmas that year. We, along with forty or fifty other families, have a perspective that some of the new comers may not have. After seeing the unbelievable progress to date we could not be more pleased with our decision. Development was relatively slow during the first few years and things did not break out big until the early 2000’s. In 2004 Berkeley County reassessed property in the county increasing our home’s assessed value by 93% and jumped our 2005 property taxes by 51.7%. Keep in mind that it is illegal to reap a windfall increase due to a reassessment. Fast forward to 2012 and we have experienced a 329% increase in our assessed value over eight years. Fortunately, thanks to the SC Legislature implementing a maximum increase of 15% every five years we are “only” taxed on a 222% increase in assessed value. So total assessment has jumped 16% per year during the last eight years and adjusted amount has increased an average of 10.5%. Our property taxes, if you add back the school operating taxes to make a like comparison, from 2004 until 2012 have increased 223% or 12.35% per year. Also note that Berkeley County is apparently delaying reassessment so as to maintain the artificially high values during the housing bubble. Additionally the recent $198 million bond issue will bump our school bond costs by $40 per $100,000 for a couple of years and double after that. That means Berkeley County tax comparisons will only get worse.
This explanation should help explain why we are interested in a comprehensive study. We are retired so we do not have the ability to increase income to offset these exorbitant increases. When I plugged my information into the provided calculator and noted it would result in over a thousand dollar annual savings in property taxes if we were in Charleston County it got my attention. I know there are other issues like insurance, schools, etc. On the school issue many have grave doubts that the BCSB is seriously considering a second school on Daniel Island. In my opinion, the bottom line is that we are in a great position to have the respective counties come forward with concrete proposals for schools, taxes, insurance and other county services. The only way to get that information is to follow the process under SC Law. I believe we should proceed until we have the facts laid out in binding documents. Then the informed voters on Daniel Island must approve annexation into Charleston County by a 2/3 majority and Charleston County voters must approve by a simple majority.
E. Mac McBride
Past 3 Term DINA President

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