The sky is not falling . . .

Open Letter

Regardless of what some on Lexington County Council are attempting to distract constituents during reelection campaigns. Growth is not the issue, and some on the council have even admitted it. It’s residential growth they say, not commercial growth.

Yes, we all want those large companies and the employers, just not the people that would come to those jobs. But can’t have one without the other. So it’s not growth, and even not residential growth, just can’t be smaller, denser cookie-cutter affordable homes. It’s the fact that inflation, the cost to provide services over the years has risen more than the revenue to provide the service has.

They are blaming developers, and builders for putting up too many homes for the record number of people moving into the county. Supply meeting demand. Your past county council members worked to make the county a better place to live, everyone shares that with others and lo and behold others want to move here, and they are. Read the news, Charlotte is the fourth fastest growing city in the US, Rock Hill I believe was number 13 in the US, South Carolina is in the top 10 fastest growing state in the US and Lexington County is one of the top counties in the state, so is Lexington Richland School District 5.

Everyone wants to be in the best school district that they can, even if retired, resale values and all that.

So what do you do? Well as a resident or voter, you want and expect your elected officials to think and use common sense, do what needs to be done, what has to be done, without considering it’s election time, or it will be the next election cycle. Worried about your reelection is short-term thinking and not what is best for the county residence down the road. That is why this problem is here at their feet today. Others and some long-term current council members have passed the buck, kicking the can down the road and the road is a dead end. Now it’s the current council’s job to fix the problem, not look for a scapegoat (builders/developers and municipalities). Which sounds good to current residents sitting in traffic. But it doesn’t fix roads, or provide for those same services (EMS, fire, police) as the revenue did 10 to 15 years ago.

So let’s discuss the fallacy that new residents cost more money than current residents. If every current residential home in the County is paying the correct amount of property taxes per 100,000 value of home to provide proper road maintenance, EMS, Fire, and police services, then each new home would be paying the same and all is well. But each current residential property isn’t paying enough nor hasn’t for a while. Let’s not talk about school taxes, that is for schools and they have their own elected officials deciding that tax rate. Discussing how much of your tax bill goes to the school district it’s just a distraction and a way of saying we can’t pay any more in taxes because of how much we already paid to the school district. Saying fire, and EMS police can’t handle growth is a fallacy as well, you just add more fire, EMS, police staff, equipment, etc. as needed. But that would require the county council to raise their tax rate to provide for those needs. And yet county council members claim they can’t raise taxes to cover the additional cost of providing those services, why? It’s an election year for some and will be soon for others. If they can’t vote to raise county taxes, but do vote to approve school tax increases, then they are being disingenuous. Yes, they say people can’t afford it, but they still vote to approve the other taxes on your annual bill. And some can’t truly afford it, but if you need more fire, EMS, and police then you need more revenue to properly maintain roads and they’re the ones whose job it is to do so. Yes, all say they can’t afford more taxes as I do myself. Yeah, it does cost more to eat out and eat at home, utility bills go up everything goes up and so does the cost to provide fire EMS police services and properly maintain County Roads.

So county council wants to provide those services at a proper level, it can’t do it when all those costs associated with providing proper services are rising and when the tax revenue for those services isn’t increasing as well. Road improvement costs have increased from 100 to 400% since the county last increased taxes for that service.

Look at your county tax bill, not the bottom total, not the school tax, not the zoo nor library, just the County total and look back 10 years ago, see what the the tax millage was then compared to now. Not the tax amount itself because that has risen with the increased value of your home. What was the county millage 5– 10–15 years ago compared to today? Or better yet ask your county elected officials for that information and ask them how much road repair was per mile back then, and how much did it cost to provide for fire, EMS, and police services back then compared to today. You will quickly see costs have increased tremendously, but not the revenue, not the millage rate. Yes revenue will increase as new homes are built and more taxpayers pay in, but compare the millage rate for those services then and now. Don’t let them distract you by blaming others, or kicking the can down the road, the can will fall into a big pothole.

Building up or out, urban sprawl and how county council’s delusional 4 homes per acre policy will create more urban sprawl, more costly homes for residents. But won’t stop growth, only creates more issues down the road, another kick-the-can reaction. Same as concurrency policy, just another look at what we are doing, to look like we are doing something. Distractions from what must be done, provide the additional needed increased revenues.

Hardy King