Stop the Horry County Property Tax Increase
Stop the Horry County Property Tax Increase
The Horry County Council is currently considering a massive property tax increase. Their proposal is to raise the property tax 7.2 mils to make up a supposed $5 million shortfall. This is happening at a time when Americans and especially the citizens of South Carolina are hard hit by worsening economic conditions. The labor participation rate for Americans is at a 37 year low of 62.9% and even worse for our state at 54.0%. Even the government fudged unemployment rate gives an unflattering picture of the job prospects in South Carolina and our beloved Horry County. The unemployment rate for the U.S. is currently 5.4%, SC is 6.7% and Horry County lags behind at 7.7%. And don’t even consider moving to South Carolina to get rich. The average medium income for the U.S. is around $53,800 while again South Carolina lags, no it trails far behind at $44,779.
It should be obvious that South Carolina and Horry County in particular suffer from some sort of economic malaise. Most economists would agree that raising taxes is not the way to stimulate an economy, unless of course your name is John Maynard Keynes. Money spent on taxes is an expense. It is money taken away from capital creation, taken from the investment pool and well, just given to politicians to grow government. If you want to stimulate an economy, get more money into the hands of the consumer and the entrepreneur – sometimes by cutting taxes.
Yet, several of our county councilmen, who, of course, know better than the average tax payer, have determined that what Horry County really needs at this time is a massive tax increase.
Here are the tax increase specifics:
- $28.80 increase per $100,000 assessment in property taxes, no exemptions
- $14.40 increase per $100,000 assessment in property taxes, with homestead exemption
- $43.20 increase per $100,000 assessment in property taxes on rental property
- $75.60 increase per $100,000 assessment in property taxes on businesses property
To pay for:
- Two court security officers
- Two staff attorneys for solicitor’s office
- Address EMS call volume
- Four detectives for violent crimes
- Three detectives for gang unit
- Pay increases (3 percent for county employees; 5 percent for Class 1 officers)
- Public safety body cameras and digital storage
- Police radar
- New stretchers
Here are some reasons why the tax increase is not appropriate:
- Those who promised in last year’s election to “oppose new taxes” (Lazarus), “keep property taxes low” (Vaught) and “decrease the size of government” (Howard) or who stood with the ‘Taxed Enough Already’ party when running for county chairman in 2013 (Allen) have quickly forgotten those promises.
- According to the county’s own briefing documents, $93,256,000 will be spent for the pay and benefits of the 1,631 county employees paid from the general fund in FY 2016. Basic math follows: Dividing $93,256,000 by 1,631 equals $57,177 in pay and benefits per employee. The vast majority of tax-payers working in the private sector in Horry County today don’t get even close to $57,177 in pay or benefits (remember that average medium income figure of $44,779). Even Councilman Harold Worley said during the budget workshop; “The people of Horry County are not making this type of money”.
- The majority of the money will go to improvements within the Horry County Police Department. But what about the incorporated municipalities within Horry County such as Myrtle Beach? They will be paying the increased property tax but receiving virtually no benefit since they have their own police department.
- And for all the hype that this tax increase is needed to improve public safety, you will notice that the tax increase does not pay for even one additional patrolman on the street.
- With this tax increase proposal raising its head a mere month before the budget for next fiscal year is required to be finished, you have to wonder how much thought had gone into cutting expenses in other areas before deciding on a big tax increase. It may be a good idea for the council to look for waste cutting and improved efficiencies within the estimated 40 county departments before introducing a tax increase.
- The proposed budget shortfall is also in question. The original first reading of the budget was balanced and did not require a tax increase. What changed? Also, there is money from the SC General Assembly that is due to Horry County. The SC General Assembly has been underpaying the counties for years. It is estimated that Horry County is owed an additional $3-4 million each year from this fund. Plus, the state just declared a possible $360 million surplus. The county should be looking to the state of South Carolina for monies, before it reaches into the pockets of Horry County residents.
- One last problem with this property tax increase. Myrtle Beach and Horry County, in general, is a popular retirement destination. How many of your neighbors fled the high tax states in the Northeast (maybe because they could not pay the property tax on their home after they retired) to move to the supposed low tax South. South Carolina has benefitted economically with this influx of retirees (we don’t do a good job attracting businesses, but the retirees love us). This influx has created hundreds of jobs for builders, property management, hospitals, food service, and, in my case, chiropractic services. These senior citizens for the most part live on fixed incomes and an on-going trend of increased property taxes is the last thing they either want or can afford.
SIGN THIS PETITION AND LET YOUR COUNCILMAN KNOW THAT THIS IS NOT THE TIME FOR A TAX INCREASE.