Friday, September 6, 2013
I would like to hear the candidates for mayor of Mount Pleasant explain just how the proposed new town hall qualifies for Tax Increment Financing (TIF) money. TIF money is supposed to be used to help develop blighted areas that in turn will bring in additional tax revenues.
Until the additional tax revenues are available the TIF projects are financed by diverting tax revenue from schools and similar recipients of taxes.
Go here for a full definition of TIFs and their pros & cons - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tax_increment_financing.
What I would like the candidates to address is just what is blighted about the area where town hall will be built and what is the expectation for additional taxes after the town hall is built - specifically what and where will the additional taxes come from?
It appears that some very creative work was done when the Mount Pleasant TIF districts were defined - go here to see more about the Mount Pleasant TIF districts http://www.engagetompsc.com and the new town hall.
The town seems to look at using TIF money as if it is free and has done little in accounting for the projects that have been financed with TIF money and the subsequent additional revenues that should follow each project.
The five candidates for mayor should address this issue in the spirit of transparency in government.
It is self evident and data driven; the Town of Mount Pleasant does not need a new building complex to house town employees.
This proposal, in microcosm, is the battle being waged by taxpayer citizens across America – how to stop government spending more and more of our earnings for projects less and less beneficial.
This might be a terrific litmus test into the governing character of candidates running for town office in November elections to be held in several days.
I will be a single issue voter.
Public monies spent to newly house town employees is a waste of hard-earned wages surrendered by us to the government as taxes.
I ask that each of the candidates for town office to state their clear and unequivocal position on this question in issues of the Moultrie News.
Less talk, more action
The American people deserve better.
The Congress and the president are procrastinating and bickering and getting nothing done while we are falling behind in world opinion and failing miserably on domestic issues.
They must act now and get legislation passed, and signed into law without further delay. Here is my list:
• The Economy
• Obamacare recall
• Immigration reform
• Social Security reform
• Debt reduction
• Afganistan withdrawal (now)
• Iran nuclear threat
• Korean nuclear threat
If the present administration and Congress fail to act, we should act at the 2014 primaries by replacing those who are definitely not representing our best interests. Then in the November election vote in a new Congress with a definite message that we, the people, want action.
Did anyone else cringe when reading the headline of Mr. Lamson-Scribner’s last article in the Aug. 28 Moultrie News? Weed apocalypse? Get out the chemicals and dowse your lawn and flower beds?
When I see a perfectly trimmed, monoculture of imported grass around a home, I feel sad. I know that such a lawn has been sprayed with chemical herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers, fungicides and maintained by low-wage workers. It will never be safely visited by butterflies, bees or hummingbirds. All its trimmings and leaf litter has been bagged and hauled off by fossil fueled vehicles. Pine straw has been mechanically harvested from our forests, baled, and spread around it.
I guess I do agree with Mr. Lamson-Scribner that it is a battleground after all.
Charleston County School Superintendant Nancy McGinley congratulated herself on the performance of Mount Pleasant schools while brushing off misguided planning for new schools. Four statements from her Op Ed in The Post and Courier on Aug. 27 cause concern for Sullivan’s Island Elementary School and all East Cooper residents:
1) “Great schools sell real estate” – by dangling this notion before Sullivan’s Island Town Council, and with Bill Lewis bragging SIES would be his showcase - the only east coast school on the beach - Sullivan’s Island Town Council accepted a mega school when a renovation of and additions to the two newest portions of the existing SIES would have fit needs, preserved the environment and saved money for more needed schools.
2) Consideration to remodel schools is now taking the forefront following pressure from Mount Pleasant. This is too late, considering demolition to replace “dangerous” schools (with flood zone schools) was fabricated with “Earthquake” scares to plea for lots of tax cash. Now the only excuse for more cash is “we are out of money to finish the job.”
3) A short-term proposal given by Dr. McGinley is to increase the enrollment in schools yet unfinished. If many years of planning to zone, design and construct are needed (her statement), where was she when Mount Pleasant was growing even in the real estate crash? What is to keep her from similarly increasing enrollment at SIES (certainly not town council)?
4) She gave another short term proposal of using the old Whitesides campus for another school. Where was the obsolescence of that school when the new and unfilled Whitesides was built. If it’s good enough for a magnet, as she proposes, then SIES could remain until more thoughtful planning is done. Yet what we see is a fast forward panic, extended intrusive construction hours and no provisions for numerous infrastructure failures.
It would be a shame to not have a school on Sullivan’s Island. So why not a smaller school with the remainder of the footprint used for town buildings and the same saving of tax dollars Dr. McGinley stated with shared infrastructure. Sullivan’s Island could pick up the tab for half of the site preparations and speed up both approved building projects. Most of the infrastructure (cited by McGinley), combining Laing and Jennie Moore still does not solve their parking and traffic going and coming to school; but staggered hours for Sullivan’s island Town Hall would.
There would be added safety with contiguous police. There would be much needed weekend parking and a shared gathering site for the school and town – always on different schedules. The necessary elevations would also provide outdoor classrooms becoming public picnicking on weekends, once again on completely different schedules. That is a community long range plan.
The real shame here is that planning is all done in silos. All the mistakes seen in hindsight could have been avoided. Yet there is a rush to spend tax dollars as fast as possible so CCSD can come back for more – now they have. These are community schools. Charleston County School District should not be the tail wagging the dog. Stand up, Mount Pleasant Community. Stand up, Sullivan’s Island.