By Paul Gable
Myrtle Beach City Council was informed at its council workshop today that the forced annexation referendum results from last week’s special election would have to be voided because of a “technicality.”
According to Myrtle Beach City Attorney Tom Ellenberg, the polling took place outside of the annexation area violating state law.
What is interesting about this is that the election notice for last week’s special election referendum specifically identified the polling places and their locations that would be used several weeks before the election was held. Why wasn’t this problem caught either before or immediately after the election notice appeared?
Furthermore, according to information provided to council at the workshop, the same petition initially certified by city council would be “recertified” by council. This despite earlier revelations that the petition, signed in October 2012, contained names of voters that no longer lived in the annexation area.
After the petition is recertified, a new special election on the referendum question will be scheduled.
Looming over these difficulties is the question whether state law allows the city to attach nearly 600 acres of commercial and undeveloped property to an annexation district in which only approximately 44 acres of residential property submitted the petition.
The petition form of annexation requires the signatures of at least 25% of the registered voters in the proposed annexation area. Commercial and undeveloped property owners have no say in the process.
State law allows two other forms of annexation that clearly would cover the commercial and undeveloped property, but each requires initiation by the property owner. In this case, many of the commercial property owners did not even know their property was to be annexed into the city until notice of the referendum became public.
With the resultant rise in taxes that would be experienced by the commercial property owners after annexation, does excluding them from the process not constitute “taxation without representation”?
While this annexation and resulting taxation without representation of the commercial property owners is possibly not illegal, the Founding Fathers of the nation initiated a revolution against Great Britain for the very same reason.
Is it really too much to ask Myrtle Beach City Council to, at least, pay a modicum of respect to the history and traditions of our representative democracy?