By Paul Gable
If I learned anything from Tuesday night’s televised forum of candidates in the special election for the vacant Horry County Council chairman seat, it’s that very little separates these candidates on issues.
Mark Lazarus, Liz Gilland, Al Allen, Debbie Harwell and Fonzie Lewis are not going to raise taxes except in cases of extreme emergency. Yet, all are going to push hard for I-73, the Southern Evacuation Lifeline and other major road projects in the county.
More major road projects with no tax increases.
Things like hospitality fees, road maintenance fees and local option sales taxes, all of which have been added or increased through the years, don’t count as taxes in this thought process.
One bit of change – all will welcome bikers and bike rallies with open arms.
None of the candidates are talking about what could become the 400 lb. gorilla in council chambers before the remainder of the current chairman’s term is completed. Namely, how does the county continue to provide the current, expected level of services with a declining tax base?
In fairness, no one is asking the candidates about this potentially major issue either.
The county is due for property tax reassessment next year. Property values have declined with the collapse of the real estate bubble. Reassessment will reflect the decline in property values.
If property tax rates remain the same, and they are expected to, the county will have less revenue to accomplish the same services after reassessment.
None of the candidates are talking about this. Probably, none of the candidates are even considering it, but it’s out there and coming closer.
Meanwhile, the most recent poll we are hearing about has Gilland and Lazarus running neck and neck at the top of the ticket followed by Allen, Harwell and Lewis in that order.
I didn’t see anything to cause a shake-up in that order last night.