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Features : Letters to Editor Last Updated: Apr 9, 2014 - 9:34:26 AM

Letters to the Editor - April 10, 2014
Apr 9, 2014 - 9:33:29 AM

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Annexation process provided answers, special election not needed
I am writing on the subject of annexation. I have been reading with great interest the various articles and letters to the editor in this newspaper with the opinions of the proponents and opponents of annexation. I have a middle-of-the-road view on annexation, one I suspect the majority of Island residents hold as well.
I don’t believe that the annexation effort has been a waste of effort and approximately $25,000 in POA funds. I signed the annexation petition, not because I am a proponent of annexation, but because I wanted more information on the pros and cons of annexation. I also felt that by starting the process to investigate annexation, it would serve as a “shot across the bow” to Berkeley County and its elected officials to do a better job of hearing and addressing the concerns of Daniel Island taxpayers. I think the work done to date on investigating annexation has been successful on those fronts.
First, based on the data the Annexation Commission has gathered, it is now apparent that annexing to Charleston County will be a messy and expensive process. The school district line will not necessarily move with the county line. If the school district line is redrawn, then Berkeley County must be reimbursed for Daniel Island School. There is non-school infrastructure indebtedness that must be reimbursed as well.
Second, we now know that Charleston County is not rolling out the red carpet to welcome us. In their initial answers to the Commission’s inquiries, Charleston County officials indicate that the school and infrastructure reimbursement costs due to Berkeley County would not be spread out over all Charleston County residents, but would be paid by a “special assessment” on Daniel Island residents. Because of overcrowding at Wando High School, high school students residing on Daniel Island would likely first be sent to North Charleston High School until a new high school can be built in Mount Pleasant. Charleston County will expect Daniel Islanders to pay their fair share for this new high school. Based on this information, there will be little if any tax savings by moving to Charleston County, and at least for the Island’s high school students, things would get worse before they get better (Berkeley County’s Hanahan High is rated much higher than Charleston County’s North Charleston High).
Third, it is clear that since catching wind that Daniel Island is considering switching counties, Berkeley County has been much more responsive to our needs and concerns. The Berkeley County School District is now interpreting the wording in the school funding referendum in a manner that favors Daniel Island. Berkeley County Council has held meetings on the Island and issued a proclamation on DI’s importance to Berkeley County. Berkeley County officials are writing letters to local newspapers on the importance of keeping Daniel Island in Berkeley County.
For approximately $25,000 in POA funds and the volunteer efforts of the Annexation Commission, we have: 1) Determined that annexation will be a complicated, expensive endeavor; 2) On schools and taxes (the two primary drivers behind annexation), determined that Charleston County’s answers with regard to schools are not appealing, and any tax savings are likely minimal; 3) By beginning the annexation investigation process and threatening to leave, gotten the full, undivided attention of Berkeley County officials, who are now much more responsive to our concerns and needs.
The approximately $25,000 in POA funds was well spent and I applaud DINA, the POA, and the Annexation Commission for their work. There is value in knowing the grass is not greener on the other side of the fence. Now that we know that the potential benefits of annexing to Charleston County are not compelling, it does seem foolish to continue to invest time and money in the effort. I believe that the POA should deny the Commission’s request for $120,000 in additional funds. The Commission should issue its report to the Governor based on the information collected to date and then disband.
There is no need to schedule a special election to vote on annexation.
John McLure, Daniel Island

Oppose special assessment for annexation
I want to thank Greg Turner for his recent letters to the editor regarding Annexation of Daniel Island and the possibility of a special assessment. Now is the time to communicate to the POA and DINA if you do not agree with the impending special assessment. The POA and DINA were given only 30 days by the Annexation Commission to commit to the request for incremental funding towards this possible assessment. If we continue to remain silent, we are giving POA and DINA the opportunity to move forward.  Let's open the dialogue on a special assessment, and hear from all residents, not just the 700 petitioners who signed the original annexation inquiry. Residents should have the opportunity to vote prior to any special assessment or additional funding being allocated to the Annexation process.  
Peter Zalka, Daniel Island
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