Editorials

Editorial | A Self-Imposed Tax Hike?

February 21, 2013 

Kudos to the residents of Quail Creek, who asked for the opportunity to raise their own taxes this week.

Homeowners in the neighborhood near Coastal Carolina University asked Horry County Council for the chance to hold a special election that could increase their property taxes to pay for improved amenities such as street lights, speed bumps, landscaping and better stormwater management.

It’s not often that residents voluntarily ask for higher taxes. More often, we hear residents complaining only that somebody ought to do something, usually meaning, “I want somebody else to pay for what I want.” But Quail Creek residents – or at least the 15 percent or so who have signed a petition so far – stepped up and recognized that there are higher priorities for the limited funds of the county and state than installing street lights in their neighborhood. If they want a better-than-average neighborhood, it’s up to them to pay for it, not the rest of us who don’t live there.

Kudos also to Councilman Carl Schwartzkopf, a resident of Quail Creek and vice president of the neighborhood’s homeowners association. With more than $90,000 in his county-provided discretionary recreation fund account, the councilman could likely have spent that tax money improving his own neighborhood, justifying it as a recreation expense. It certainly wouldn’t have been the first recreation fund money that went to an HOA. But he refrained, and we appreciate his financial conscientiousness.

The request for a special election must still make it through two more votes of County Council and then be approved in Columbia. Even then, it would only give the neighborhood the right to hold the election; taxes wouldn’t go up unless voters approve the proposal. So any rate hike is still a ways away. But we appreciate the willingness of the community, at least thus far, to take ownership of their own wish list and do something about it, rather than simply moan about it not being done.

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