Remember the good old days - - before 2007? Remember when we were getting “richer” everyday as home values were going up,up,up, builders were working hard on new ones, bankers had money to burn, government was looking the other way, and home equity loans were a way to get really nice stuff.
The $300 million Georgetown County Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) came to be during those good old days- - in the form of a list of projects (transportation, recreation and leisure, economic development, community enhancement, and government buildings) -- to transform Georgetown County. Paying for the vision would be achieved by the growth that was bound to continue.
County Council received and accepted “projections” for future growth and new tax money that the growth would generate. Paying for the $300 million CIP would be a piece of cake. Not only the higher “projected” tax revenue, but grants (free money), borrowed money, etc. would all be available to help pay the bills.
Next, remember the 2007-2008 not-so-good old days? The stock market went from about 13,000 to 6,500. Banks hit a wall; home builders hit the adjacent wall. What did County Council do? Switched to Plan B – huge impact fees -- on January 27, 2009 on a 6 to 1 vote.
Home builders, already bloodied, hit this second wall. But impact fees were “projected” to bring in $2 million per year for the CIP. County Council cut pay for employees 3 percent in June 2009.
At the end of 2010 (Dec. 14) county staff made a depressing, though not surprising, CIP status report: The “projected” revenue for the 10 years 2002-2018 was lower than the earlier projections by $40 million – tax money was down, “projected” impact fees were also.
Further, staff had looked at projects and priorities and recommended $45 million worth of projects to put to the ax. County Council voted 7 to 0 to approve the report, and the cuts.
Fast forward to 2012 – the really not good days, when many homes are “under water”, unemployment is sky high, the economy's still in the tank, and the national debt is over $16 trillion. County Council gives us Plan C – they are asking us to let them raise the sales tax so they can have an additional $40 million to spend so they can reverse the spending cuts they agreed to just two years ago, plus add a few projects..
Answer the question on Nov.6; vote NO.
The writer lives in Pawleys Island.