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Another Tax Increase:
This November 5TH Dorchester County Council has placed a referendum on the ballot for an additional 1% sales tax on ALL PURCHASES (INCLUDING FOOD) in Dorchester County. They want you to believe this is a tax shift—but please realize it is a BIG TAX INCREASE!
PEOPLE WHO RENT receive no benefit from this tax at all; they just get the additional 1% tax on everything they buy. Those who own a little property will PAY MORE IN SALES TAX THAN THEY WILL SAVE IN PROPERTY TAX.
FIVE PERCENT of all sales tax collected as a LOST is sent to Columbia to be kept there or distributed to poor "done" counties. Do you really want to pay more sales tax in Dorchester County only to be sent to rural done counties?
REVERSE “ROBIN HOOD” EFFECT – it takes from those who can least afford it and shifts the tax credits to the rich who need it the least. The benefit in property taxes on a modest $100,000 home (in the County) would be $38! Buy $150 in groceries a week and you will pay an additional $78 in taxes…already you are IN THE HOLE.
LOST will result in $2.5 million being given to local governments to increase spending, in addition to ½ million going to “donee” counties and fees to the SC Dept of Revenue. That means over $3 million a year (or 30%) can go to increasing government spending.
WHOSE PROPERTY TAXES WILL YOU BE REDUCING… one of the “rich” commercial property owners or the out-of-state shopping center owners? The sheer amount of money that the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors is sinking into passing this should tell you who will benefit the most from this sales tax increase! Have you received one of their slick mailing pieces?
ON NOVEMBER 5TH do your civic duty and go VOTE.
Vote NO on the Local Option Sales Tax
REASONS TO OPPOSE A LOCAL OPTION SALES TAX INCREASE – DORCHESTER COUNTY
LOST IS A NET TAX INCREASE -- Dorchester County CFO’s published data shows that an estimated $2,469,012 of LOST tax would be “distributed to the county and its cities that can be used at their discretion.” Those additional taxes (increasing a lot after year one) will fund EXPANSION OF LOCAL AND STATE GOVERNMENTS. In addition, annually 5% (est. $500,000) of taxes collected in Dorchester County must be redistributed to poor donee counties outside of Dorchester County and thousands of dollars of fees paid to Columbia (Sect 4-10-60, 4-10-90(B)). These new taxes "place the government's hand in taxpayers' pockets” (Senator Ted Cruz).
“REVERSE ROBIN HOOD” EFFECT -- By adding a 1% tax to purchases of food and other necessities and items, LOST would transfer part of the real estate tax burden from Dorchester County residents who own property to Dorchester County residents who do not own property, including the poor, who least can afford additional taxes. LOST is a REGRESSIVE TAX that disproportionately hurts the poor and middle class to profit those rich enough to own a lot of property (e.g., rich out of state developers). Renters, in 14,186 Dorchester County households, 28% of the total households in Dorchester County (http://www.city-data.com/county/DorchesterCounty-SC.html#ixzz2fptFA9m1), will receive NO RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY TAX CREDIT from LOST. Those who own little or no property will PAY MORE IN SALES TAX THAN THEY WILL SAVE IN PROPERTY TAX. LOST benefits wealthy property owners at the expense of ordinary citizens.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT HURT BY LOST -- Dorchester County has a competitive advantage by having a lower percentage (7%) sales tax than that of Berkeley (8%) and Charleston (8.5%) Counties. Raising Dorchester County’s sales tax would cause LESS SPENDABLE INCOME, which would result in LESS SPENDING AND LESS ECONOMIC GROWTH. The SC Board of Economic Advisers acknowledges that consumer expenditures should decrease as the tax rate increases, and that there has been about a 5% decrease in spending in a county following a 1% increase in its tax rate. That is proof that a higher sales tax reduces consumer spending, which hurts businesses and decreases jobs. Whether marginally lowering the property tax of SOME to increase the sales tax on ALL would benefit economic growth more than would retaining Dorchester County’s current lower sales tax rate is, at best, speculative. Retirees are more likely to retire to lower sales tax locations outside of DC if DC increases its sales tax rate. The best way to stimulate growth and jobs is to let people keep their money to spend rather than take it from them as taxes.
SALES TAX ARE HIGH AND PROPERTY TAXES ARE LOW RELATIVELY ALREADY -- The amount of sales taxes in Dorchester County and South Carolina are already among the HIGHEST IN THE U.S. (average state and local sales tax rate (7.19%) ranks SC 17th highest in US; using LOST to raise to combined 8% rate would worsen Dorchester's ranking (http://taxfoundation.org/article/state-and-local-sales-tax-rates-midyear-2013X)). Property taxes in Dorchester County and in South Carolina on owner-occupied residences are among the LOWEST IN THE U.S (only five states higher as of percentage of median income (http://www.tax-rates.org/southcarolina/property-tax)). It is better to keep what exists than to make a high sales tax higher and a low property tax lower. (High commercial property taxes caused by Act 388 should be fixed by comprehensive tax reform by the state Legislature which created those high taxes, not by increasing sales taxes on non or low property owners in Dorchester County.)
NO SUNSET -- If LOST passes, it will be ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO RESCIND it. The high sales tax would be imposed FOREVER. Rescission could occur only by referendum requested by a petition of 15% of all Dorchester Voters. Section 4-10-35. However, any property tax relief greater than 71% can be rescinded by simple majority vote of Dorchester County or municipal governments at any time and be used to increase spending for their operations. Both Berkeley and Charleston County Councils reneged on their promises to credit 100% of their LOST taxes against property taxes, by using LOST taxes to increase Council’s spending.
OFF YEAR, SPECIAL ELECTION = LOW TURNOUT, INCREASED COSTS Council is holding this critical referendum when there is no county wide election. That ensures low voter turnout and increased costs. It would be better public policy to hold the referendum during a general election, such as in November 2014, when there would be much higher voter turnout and no special election costs.
October 20, 2013 PA2
LOST in the Dorchester County tax fight
All you have to do is mention the idea of a tax increase in Dorchester County and things go a little haywire.
People will proclaim they are taxed enough already. There may be cries of conspiracy, fears that soon dogs and cats will be living together. You might even see anti-tax groups aligning themselves with — gasp — Democrats.
Yes, it’s sort of like the end times.
The Dorchester County Council has put a referendum on the November ballot asking residents if they’d like lower property tax bills in exchange for a little bitty 1 percent increase in the sales tax.
The acronym for the local option sales tax is “LOST,” which is what this referendum has already done.
The county has tried to pass this tax three or four times in the past 20 years, and it’s gone down in flames every time.
This time may be the worst. Folks are mad and confused. They even claim the county is trying to bamboozle them.
And the county Republican Party is stuck smack dab in the middle of it all.
This really is the Apocalypse.
The Dorchester County Democratic Party came out early against the tax.
Now, this might confuse people who get their “news” from talk radio. Aren’t Dems the ones who have never seen a tax increase they didn’t like?
Uh, no. In fact, the sales tax is right in their wheelhouse — it’s a regressive tax.
“It’s a reverse Robin Hood tax,” says Richard Hayes, Dorchester Democratic Party chairman. “It hits the poor and lowest middle class the hardest.”
That’s because, opponents claim, a modest drop in property taxes on an average home will not offset the increase in sales taxes on everything else people buy, including food.
Yes, the local option sales tax would apply to groceries. Big tactical error there.
The Dorchester County Taxpayers Association says the extra tax on groceries alone will more than offset the property tax savings for anyone who doesn’t live in a big ol’ mansion. The group praised Democrats for opposing the tax and chided Republicans for not following suit.
But hold up on the criticism. Jordan Bryngelson, chairman of the Dorchester County Republican Party, says there is a resolution on the group’s agenda this week that will determine whether the party endorses or opposes the tax.
Most folks think they’ll oppose it, but there is a definite divide.
The pro-business, traditional Republicans like the idea — they favor lower property taxes; they say it helps attract business. And they are losing revenue to Charleston and Berkeley counties, both of which have local option sales taxes. Fact is, many Dorchester residents do most of their shopping in one of those two counties anyway.
But the conservatives don’t like any tax, especially not when they figure they won’t save a dime in the swap.
Funny, this is the same ideological battle raging in the GOP nationally.
A new hope?
As is often the case, Dorchester County Councilman Larry Hargett is on the opposite side of this issue from his colleagues.
He says the county hasn’t studied the effects of this tax enough, and he wouldn’t support it anyway because it applies to groceries.
Hargett tried to get the council to delay the referendum until next year — during a higher turnout, statewide election. But he got shot down.
Now, he says, the county is on the hook for $34,000, the cost of a one-issue election that could wait. And that only confirms the suspicions of folks who think the county is trying to slip one by. Well, it may not work out that way.
The Democrats are in full get-out-the-vote mode, both to stop the sales tax and test the new voter ID system. And the taxpayers association is riling up conservatives.
This is a healthy development in local politics — two normally opposing sides aligning themselves for what they see as the common good.
If they’d do this more often, they would find they have more common ground than they might imagine. It’d be nice to think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Nah, your regularly scheduled partisan bickering will resume shortly.
As soon as the sales tax has “LOST” yet again.
Reach Brian Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2013 The Post and Courier all rights reserved
Subject: "We Won...We Lost"
Editor, Summerville Journal Scene (never Published)
The realtor, Richard L. Miler's letter to the editor insinuates that John Braund and those of the Dorchester County Taxpayers Association and those of other local associations who are instrumental to defeat the Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) are simply fools to vote against Mr. Miler's interest in rental properties and housing and the interests of out of and in-state developers, contractors and The Real Estate Party's self serving interests who benefit at taxpayers' expense.
These interests enjoy enormous financial returns at minimum cost to support the infrastructure that their projects require.
For too many years I witnessed a close association between School District 2 and its Superintendent who is supposed to be employed by his school board. The fact he runs the School Board and is prone to locate new schools wherever the developers' plan to purchase development property. District 2 is praised by the local paper as the result of the District's self promotion... the schools are the major incentive for the development of housing and apartment complexes. Pye's primary job should be education and graduation rates not acting the part of shill for special interests. The job of the School Board's responsibility is to coordinate, investigate and justify affordable school projects.
The Summerville building supply businesses , one of which is owned by former Summerville Mayor Berlin Myers who held the record for holding office longer than Methuselah because he supported the whims of the Chamber of Commerce and developers' interests related to explosive growth.
The new industries located in Berkeley, Charleston and North Charleston are bonanzas for these surrounding counties' financial coffers. New industrial employees pay their taxes on wages, not to Dorchester County, but where they are employed. To them Summerville has better schools and is a bedroom community and so their families locate in Summerville. The attraction is due to the open door encouragement of our prior and present County Councils including the present mayor of Summerville who is well aware that residential development only partially pays for the enormous infrastructure costs that developers have nearly a free ride with their token contributions.
The local county council has personal interests related to real estate law, property closings, links to development speculators and certainly the Chamber of Commerce that couldn't care less for small business owners. The result is political domination over the general public interest. Poor planning support in support of special interests result in ever-expanding congestion that compress thousands of renters into housing , apartments and condominiums that far exceed the infrastructure costs.
The developers enjoy token assessments (GRATIS POLITICAL MONKEYSHINES AT STATE AND LOCAL LEVELS). More roads, more police, fire, water and sewers, garbage collection, and the utopian ideas to build Cadillac, costly schools that are unaffordable including an Olympic size swimming pool for public use, funded through the school budget. The college level basketball courts, and gymnasiums require ancillary support for manpower and equipment. The increased cost of electricity and gas that the utility industry must charge adds significantly higher utility bills for everyone.
General purpose bonds indebt taxpayers "ad infinitum" yet holds down property taxes to favor the rich property owners disproportionally because of a legal state taxing limit on high priced homes, not the average homeowner who never is able to reach the tax cap applicable to million dollar estates whose valuations keep rising but not their property taxes.
The enormous increase in vehicle property tax, business license fees and exploding traffic fines hides the fact that the middle class pays those other silent taxes on electric, phone, and internet service. All of this reflects an open maw forever that most affect those on fixed incomes.
Be alert for future millage increases given that the same people still are in control and will make up for their LOST defeat. A Real Estate Party is no joke... check Google.