By Paul Gable
The vote on whether the City of Myrtle Beach will be successful in forcing at least 12 businesses into the city limits, with accompanying city taxes, will be held today.
The forced annexation of these businesses is part of an overall annexation referendum of approximately 640 acres. The initiative started with the Bridgeport community desiring annexation into the city to, hopefully, initiate road improvements.
State law prohibits forced annexation of property into city limits. One of the reasons is the additional level of taxation the properties will experience.
However, Myrtle Beach believes it has found a loophole in state law that allows the addition of commercial and undeveloped property to annexation petitions for residential property.
The main reason the city added the commercial and undeveloped property was to gain additional tax revenue for city coffers to help pay for the road improvements wanted in Bridgeport.
There appear to be several technical glitches with the petition and referendum process that is likely to be challenged if the referendum passes.
The commercial property owners had absolutely no say in the addition of their properties to the annexation area and were never told directly by the city that their property had been included until after it became public knowledge through media reports.
Only registered voters in the proposed annexation area can vote in the referendum giving the entire say on annexation to the residential property areas, an area of approximately 44 acres of the overall 640 acres.
The commercial property owners will not be able to vote on the referendum unless they also happen to live in the residential portion of the proposed annexation area. This does not seem to be the case for any of those owners.
For a council with at least five of its seven members advocating the Republican Party line of small, less intrusive government and lower taxes, this is a hypocritical stance.
To further add to the political mix, the Horry County legislative delegation, another solidly, make that unanimously, so-called Republican group, has remained mute on this outrageous use of the annexation provisions of state law. The action by Myrtle Beach certainly violates the intent of the annexation process if not the verbatim wording of the law.
If the referendum passes today expect the result to be challenged due to discrepancies between the original 2012 petition, the resolution by city council approving the referendum and the referendum ballot itself.