Local tax increases and removal of the Confederate battle flag from the statehouse grounds topped the 2015 news stories.
Horry County Council passed the largest single tax increase in county history with a 7.2 mil increase in property taxes. Just for good measure, council also increased the road tax charged on every vehicle registered in the county by 67%.
Sold to the public as a means to increase public safety, the tax increase was really Horry County Council bowing to the will of county employees for a pay raise.
As council member Harold Worley said during debate of the tax increase, “Not one penny of the tax increase will go toward putting one extra officer on the street. Response times will not go down nor will community policing increase because of the tax increase.”
Adding insult to injury, the road annual tax was increased from $30 to $50 per vehicle, ostensibly to provide more money for maintenance of roads in the county road system.
Just a few months later, county council voted to use approximately $16 million in excess revenue from Ride II tax collections not for roads, but to buy a new radio system for public safety.
Five county council members will be up for re-election in 2016, but only one, Gary Loftus, voted to increase taxes.
Five of the six council members voting to raise taxes were elected or re-elected in 2014 and hope the voters will not remember this tax increase in 2018 when they face election again.
The statewide issue that was most intriguing was the removal of the Confederate battle flag from statehouse grounds.
This was done in just several days of a special session called by Gov. Nikki Haley. It demonstrated the General Assembly can act quickly when it wants to.
This special session followed a five month regular session when the General Assembly did absolutely nothing about the most important issues in the state – road maintenance and repair, ethics issues and school funding.