Carolina Forest association exploring special taxing district

01/27/2014 3:01 PM

01/27/2014 9:47 PM

The Carolina Forest Civic Association is looking at creating a special taxing district to address the need to power current street lights and eventually look ahead at more improvement projects.

Bo Ives, president of the civic association, told the Horry County Infrastructure and Regulation committee Monday that Santee Cooper has put the soon-to-be disbanded Carolina Forest Property Owners Association on notice that it plans to cut off the 14 light fixtures on five poles by the end of the month. Ives asked the county to facilitate the meeting between Santee Cooper, the civic association and area property owners. The county agreed, and a date has yet to be set.

Steve Gosnell, assistant administrator for infrastructure and regulation in Horry County, said the county was not in a position to keep the lights on.

“We received call from the electric company about the portion in Carolina Forest from [U.S.] 501 and the railroad tracks that there have been some street lights there for a couple of years that the Carolina Forest Property Owners Association have been paying,” he said. “Santee Cooper called and asked if the county wanted to take it over, but the county does not have a street light program.”

“If we do it there, we’ve got to do it for everybody in the county. We just don’t have that program in place.”

Ives said that put the civic association in a predicament to find ways to fund common area maintenance, or street lights and landscaping in thoroughfares throughout Carolina Forest. He said County Attorney Arrigo Carotti said the association has until about mid-summer to determine where the boundaries should be for this referendum and the language that should be on the ballot.

“Once we determine the language and boundaries, then we’d use the civic association as a sounding board to come, hear us talk about what we have in mind, and let us hear you tell us that this is the right path or not,” Ives said. “We think it’s more beneficial to go this route than to be annexed by Myrtle Beach or Conway to get these things, or to incorporate to get these things. We think it is not an impediment if those things were to happen in the future, if we were to be annexed or decided to incorporate at a later time. We haven’t set up anything that’s going to be a bridge or a roadblock to that.”

Currently the association is exploring one-tenth of a mill to fund the special taxing district’s needs. To figure out what that means to property owners in the Carolina Forest area, they would multiply their property value times .0001. For instance, owners of a $150,000 home would pay $15 annually. Ives said it’s too early to determine how much the taxing district would raise.

“We really don’t know what that mill’s going to be until we define what Carolina Forest is and which election district it includes,” Ives said. “Our vision is the street lights that run on Carolina Forest Boulevard to the railroad tracks are something like what we want throughout the whole development. It’s unsafe at night because of how dark it is.

“So we doubt we could ever convince the county to provide street lights and plant material in the median like Farrow Parkway on their ticket. So if we want amenities, we’re going to need a funding mechanism like a special tax district.”

Ives said the mill would also be aimed to fund engineering and legal fees “to do the next referendum with a specific set of projects for the public to vote on.”

Ives said projects that come to mind are the widening of Carolina Forest Boulevard and River Oaks Drive, where local matching funds can come from those collected in a special tax district.

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