By Paul Gable
It can be argued that the SC General Assembly is at least partially responsible for a large tax increase being considered in Horry County.
There is something called the Local Government Fund that is mandated by state law. It evolved from a group of taxes due to cities and counties collected by the state government.
To simplify the return of this money, the SC General Assembly, in 1991, passed a law that states 4.5 percent of the previous fiscal year’s general fund revenue must be divided between counties (83.3%) and cities (16.7%) based on population.
This Local Government Fund may not be cut below the 4.5% level without separate and specific legislation being passed.
In many years at least since 2000, the SC General Assembly passed an annual legislative exception (separate and specific legislation) to the 4.5% required Local Government Fund.
Because a significant number of members in both houses of the SC General Assembly hate local government and would like to see Home Rule done away with.
Since the passage of Act 388 of 2006, the SC General Assembly has directly interfered with local governments’ ability to fund local services and has used the annual exceptions to LGF amounts to continue to further restrict local government revenues.
Horry County is considering a 7.2 mil property tax increase this year partially because it has increasingly dipped into its excess reserves during the last five or so lean years of government revenue.
I believe the excuses given for a tax increase in Horry County are flawed and insincere, but the most valid one is the failure of the SC General Assembly to follow its own laws with regard to the Local Government Fund.
If the proposed tax increase receives third reading approval by Horry County Council, an equal portion of blame for increased taxes should be laid on the Horry County Legislative Delegation as well as the tax and spend Republicans on county council.
I know members of the Horry County Legislative Delegation would much rather spend their time considering what foreign vacations to take with their excess campaign funds or which citizens to sue for talking bad about them.