SOCASTEE The roads in Socastee’s Hidden Woods subdivision have some of the wear and tear of any neighborhood roads, a few dips here and a pothole or two there.
But residents say it doesn’t have the deplorable conditions that were described when the idea of instituting a special tax district to pay for road and drainage repairs in the community was first presented.
That issue came before Horry County Council Tuesday night. The council passed third and final reading of an ordinance that provides for the issuance and sale of $850,000 in general obligation bonds that will go toward road and drainage improvements in the Hidden Woods special tax district. Councilman Brent Schulz recused himself from the vote, and Councilman Harold Worley cast the sole “nay” vote.
For some in Hidden Woods, the extra property taxes they’re going to have to pay over the next 15 years leaves them concerned over how they’ll be able to make it.
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Resident John Kolumba described himself as being “hoodwinked” by the whole issue. He voted against the special tax district when it was on the ballot in November 2011.
“It’s not economically smart,” said Kolumba, who will pay almost $1,000 more annually for the 15-year lifespan of the special tax district.
Kolumba has lived in Hidden Woods since 2006. Over the last seven years, he said the area has been shown disrespect by others in Horry County who cut through their neighborhood from S.C. 544 and throw trash into the grass.
“There’s no respect for this area,” Kolumba said.
Still, he doesn’t think the roads in his neighborhood are bad enough to warrant a special tax district.
There are 150 homes in Hidden Woods and around 260 residents. What there isn’t are amenities like a swimming pool or clubhouse.
Kolumba wants to see money that is paid to the homeowners association used to make road repairs when needed.
“We just want to take care of ourselves,” he said.
Nailed between two trees on Kolumba’s property before Tuesday’s meeting was a large yellow sign advertising the dates of the County Council meetings where the special tax district would be discussed.
About a block down from his house, another of those signs was displayed in a yard.
Resident John Liberto said the signs were his doing, to keep his neighbors informed of when the council would discuss the special tax district.
Like Kolumba, he totally opposed to the measure. He owns three houses in Hidden Woods, two of which he said he rents to his children.
Liberto just received a copy of his 2013 property tax bill Tuesday. Under the special assessment portion, his total was approximately $1,023 for the house he lives in.
“It’s about money,” Liberto said.
For Marvin Heyd, it’s about seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
The chairman of the Hidden Woods special tax district addressed the council Tuesday night to thank them for their support in helping homeowners take the initiative to improve their roads without burdening other county residents.
“I have promised the homeowners ... that I would do whatever I could to get the roads done,” Heyd said.
The special tax district was put on the November 2011 ballot to help with road and drain repairs. There were 104 votes cast, and 89 people were in favor of the tax district while 15 opposed.
The millage rate tied into the special tax district is 84.6 mils and is based on the assessed value for each property owner.
“Do some have buyer’s remorse?” said Councilman Gary Loftus, whose district includes Hidden Woods.
Loftus met with neighborhood residents on Friday to discuss the controversy surrounding the special tax district. He reiterated after Tuesday’s meeting that council members want to do whatever the people of Hidden Woods want them to do.
He added the $850,000 in obligation bonds is simply the maximum the council will borrow, and it’s possible to reduce the bonds by 25 percent.
Loftus said he didn’t immediately know how that would be done.
David Moen, who lives in Hidden Woods for part of the year, seconded an idea by others to use HOA money for road improvements.
He has two daughters in high school, and said they’ll be in their 30s by the time he’s done paying for the special tax district.
Instead, he feels taking a portion of the annual $65,000 in HOA dues is the way to go for road and drain work.
“It doesn’t have to all be done at once,” Moen said.