Public safety

Letter | Haley decision creates hazard for Murrells Inlet/Garden City residents

June 13, 2014 

There is a wise adage that says "If it is not broken — no need to fix it." Unfortunately the governor in her narrow vision has placed the citizens in Murrells Inlet and Garden City, in both a short- and long- term perspective, in jeopardy.

The Fire District was created by a Public Referendum in 1962 with a mil cap of 5 mils and a Board of appointed constituents to set the rate. It took them about 20 years to need additional revenue so 5 additional mils were allowed but not used in 1994 through today.

Even their critics like Tom Swatzel and Rep. Stephen Goldfinch agree that they have practiced fiscal restraints and should be applauded. But as a prudent, well-managed board, they are concerned that they could need (not that they do need) the ability of some additional millage added to their cap if the reassessment and new construction do not improve or if a hurricane or disaster were to strike our area.

They could easily just run out of money. Quite honestly, I do not know what would happen if they did.

But what I do know, as do others who attended the public meetings, is that we could lose our ISO rating for 10 years resulting in insurance increases of $75 to $95 per year on a $200,000 house and commercial business could see possibly a $1,000 increase.

But at my age, I am more concerned about needing to wait an hour for the ambulance. And why did we put ourselves in this situation?

Because a rate change of 2 mils would cost that homeowner $15 to $18 a year in a property tax increase, which is tax deductible (your insurance premium is not). But I said both short and long term because the district is at their max rate and so for the next five, 10, 20 years, they are in a box.

Services will (not might) decline. And why? For $15 dollars per year. Have we lost our common sense? And Governor, this was how the people voted in 1974.

In perspective, Murrells Inlet Garden City Fire Department charges 10 mils and its citizens have an ISO Rating of 3. Nearby Horry County charges 21.2 mils for an ISO rating of 5.

We have a great department and board who need and deserve our support.

The writer is an S.C. senator who represents Murrells Inlet.

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