By Paul Gable
We learned this week that a second City of Myrtle Beach annexation is already in the process.
Earlier in the week, we reported about a Myrtle Beach annexation in which the city has submitted a petition for a referendum vote scheduled to be held July 15, 2014. In this one, the city has bundled together a relatively small amount, approximately 44 acres, of residential property with approximately 600 acres of commercial and undeveloped property into one annexation package.
Using an option in state law that allows 25% of voters in the proposed annexation area to petition for a referendum, the city has cut the owners of the commercial and undeveloped property included in the annexation out of the process completely. They literally have no say whether their property will be annexed into the city even though their business license fees and property taxes will rise.
This could certainly be called taxation without representation. Didn’t we once have a Revolution over that concept?
One owner of a car dealership included in the first annexation estimates his business license fees alone will rise from the approximately $4,000 he currently pays the county annually to approximately $40,000 annually under the city business license fee schedule. On top of that will be a rise in property taxes. And he has no say in whether his property is annexed or not!
The second annexation petition will, reportedly, include a similarly packaged combination of residential, commercial and undeveloped property.
Coming out of its recent budget retreat, Myrtle Beach city council is facing a continuing crunch in revenue. According to information presented to council, the city is experiencing a reduction in business license fee revenue. Forced annexation of commercial property is certainly one way to counter that trend, but it is an unfair one.
These proposed annexations can’t even be seen to be public policy initiatives.
For years, Myrtle Beach has complained about “donut holes” of unincorporated county areas completely surrounded by city areas. The city has especially blamed these donut holes for being the site of homeless camps, thereby contributing to the problem of trespassing, trash, and the like. The contention is the homeless roam from their camp sites into city areas and cause these problems.
But, there is no attempt to include any of these donut holes in the first annexation petition and, reportedly, they are not included in the second annexation proposal either.
Actually, the city created a donut hole in the first annexation petition, which, interestingly enough, leaves the much complained about Helicopter Adventures property outside the city limits.
The city doesn’t appear to be trying to solve its complaints about the homeless problem in the annexations.
So what is it doing? Attempting to take the money and run while those who will be paying the most money have no say in the process.