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The fight to fix funding for road fixes is on

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By Tom Davis 

Another year, another push by politicians in Columbia for higher taxes to “fix our roads.” 

This time it’s a 75-percent gas-tax hike and a host of other new fees, e.g., higher motor-fuel registration fees, a new infrastructure-maintenance fee, a new user fee on hybrid vehicles, etc.  

In all, they want to take an additional $800 million a year from your pockets and dump it into a system they know is broken but don’t have the courage to fix.  

Spending on South Carolina’s roads has skyrocketed during my time in the Senate. When I first took office in 2009, we spent $1 billion a year; now, after steady increases, road spending is $2.2 billion. 

Yet despite this 120-percent increase, many of our state’s roads remain in bad condition. Which begs an obvious question: “Why aren’t we getting the results the people deserve given the amount of their money we are spending?”

Organizations across the political spectrum – ranging from the Coastal Conservation League on the left, the Chamber of Commerce in the center, and the Policy Council on the right – agree on the answer: the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) and the State Transportation Infrastructure Bank (STIB), the agencies that decide how to spend the money we appropriate for roads, do a horrible job of addressing actual needs.  

Here’s why:  

By design, appointments to the governing boards of the SCDOT and the STIB are effectively controlled by the speaker of the House of Representatives and the president of the Senate; no other state in the nation gives two legislators such influence over its road expenditures, and the public-policy outcome is predictably skewed. 

The first few years I served in the Senate, both the House speaker and the Senate president were from Charleston County; during that time, hundreds of millions of road dollars, more than anywhere else in the state, poured into that county. 

Now those two legislative leaders are from the adjacent Pee Dee counties of Florence and Darlington, and the road-spending firehose has moved counterclockwise about 90 degrees. 

“Before I became chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, all monies went to Greenville, Columbia and Charleston,” Sen. Hugh Leatherman of Florence County said, shortly after becoming the Senate president. “No more. We are going to get our fair share and no longer be ignored.” 

Get it? Your money isn’t spent based on a rational assessment of statewide needs, but on raw political power.   

A tale of two highways illustrates the point.  

About two years ago, the STIB put $100 million toward converting the two-lane Pamplico Highway in Florence County to five lanes, even though The State newspaper reported traffic was so light you “could lie down in the middle of the highway during rush hour for about a minute before a vehicle appeared.” 

Around that same time, the late Sen. Clementa Pinckney was petitioning state officials for $54 million to widen a four-mile stretch of U.S. 17 in Jasper County from two lanes to four. 

This heavily traveled route to Savannah is dangerous, with narrow lanes and hardly any shoulders because of abutting marshes. Pinckney’s pleas, despite the obvious merits of the project, fell on deaf ears.

This Third-World political-spoils system of road spending is the norm. And it is why, despite substantial increases in funding, our roads remain in poor and substandard condition, and why simply focusing on the revenue side of the equation will never be the answer. Unless and until true accountability is brought to the expenditures, our roads will never be in the condition you have the right to expect.    

If a business in the private sector doesn’t spend wisely, it will be undone by its competitors; that’s the disciplining effect of markets. 

With a state agency, however, such discipline can only be attained by establishing a clear line of accountability for spending decisions to the governor – the chief executive elected by and representing all the people – so the people can then hold the governor accountable.  

That means abolishing the SCDOT and the STIB and vesting their powers in a cabinet-level Secretary of Transportation, appointed by and directly accountable to the governor.  This reform is supported by organizations on the right, center and left, and all points in between; moreover, in private at least, most legislators acknowledge it’s the right thing to do, even as fear of political retribution leads them in public to support the status quo. 

This is the reform I will fight for in the Senate, this week, next week and for however long it takes to give the people of South Carolina that transportation system they deserve.   

Sen. Tom Davis represents South Carolina Senate District 46, which includes portions of Beaufort and Jasper counties. 

Ring Tum Ditty: Ah, the food of our youth

in Contributors/Lee Scott/Voices by

By Lee Scott

One rainy and chilly Sunday evening recently, I was enjoying a hot chicken and broccoli casserole dinner with my spouse.  

After he was finished, he announced that my casserole was much better than “Ring Tum Ditty.” 

“What in blazes is ‘Ring Tum Ditty?’ ” I asked, thinking he had just made it up.  

“Check the Internet.” he suggested.  

I did a search and sure enough, there were multiple recipes for Ring Tum Ditty. How had I never heard of it before? Let me educate those of you who have never heard of Ring Tum Ditty. 

The recipe follows:  Open a can of Campbell’s tomato soup and pour into sauce pan with a half can of milk (you never use a measuring cup when cooking with Campbell’s soup). Heat it up. Then chop up some of your favorite cheese (my mother-in-law would add Velveeta cheese) and melt it in the hot soup. Once the cheese melts, pour the soup over toast and serve.  

Talk about an easy meal to prepare.

We then started to reveal other “favorites” our mothers would put together. My mother’s easy family dinner was called “Glop.”

This was made by browning a pound of ground beef in a frying pan and then adding a can of Campbell’s Onion Soup. It was then served over white bread.  “Mmmmm, mmmm, good!”  

Another dish his mother made was called “Momma’s Muck.” This delicious (sic) sounding dish consisted of pouring a can of Tomato Soup over browned meat and cooked noodles, topping it with cheese, and heating it for 15 minutes. I’m thinking 25 minutes from walking in the door to sitting down to dinner. 

My personal “easy mom” dinners were different. I would come home from work and announce it was time for breakfast. Nobody ever complained about pancakes and sausages at the dinner table. Oh, there was the occasional can of Chef Boyardee Beef Ravioli too.  

Let’s face it, we all need a break sometimes.  

It seems like young families today do not have dinners like Ring Tum Ditty, Momma’s Muck or Glop anymore. 

It is just as easy for them to stop at a fast food restaurant or order a pizza for dinner.  

However, as it turns out I still find myself pulling out that old familiar red and white can. You see, the sauce in my chicken and broccoli casserole that night had been made using Campbell’s soups.  

Our moms would have loved it.

Letter to the Editor

in Letters to Editor/Voices by

Lady’s Island column omitted information

Why did the Island News edition of March 16-23 cut short Bill Rauch’s article: “Time to get out front of the pathways?”  

Was it because of space constraints, or did the city of Beaufort edit and shorten his article?

Several important topics on costs were omitted which require our attention:

• The projected cost of building the pathways and bike ways due to the high cost of right-of-way acquisition (tell Walmart to give up their road frontage). Also the cost of a stoplight at the recycling center for safe vehicle access. Or the weight and size restrictions of vehicles on the new Harbor Island bridge.

• The ongoing cost of additional county sheriff patrols as the traffic continues to increase and pedestrian and bike usage increases.

• The additional cost and increased manpower of first responders for the distressed bike riders and pedestrians, as well as frantic Walmart shoppers.

 These and other additional costs will fall to the county, since the city of Beaufort can’t even provide enforcement of the Woods Memorial Bridge restriction of “NO vehicles three axles or more,” or the speed on Carteret Street or the drivers who don’t move to the right lane at Craven Street to go straight.

I guess the meters at the only “Pay to Read Library” in the county, and the parking meters along Carteret Street must be generating enough revenue that other enforcement is no longer needed.

I am sure Mr. Rauch would have also included discussion as to why, with a larger population than the city of Beaufort, Lady’s Island has no medical facilities, no public library, no public parks, no adequate public schools, no post office, etc.

He also would point out that Lady’s Island has inadequate and unreliable electrical power, no natural gas service, limited potable water supply, and yet someone on the other side of the river has approval authority of all new housing developments and permitting. (Think infrastructure first)!

Last but not least, with all the traffic studies, surveys, proposed fixes, new roads, etc., to ease traffic problems, no one will man up and face the $50 million elephant (problem): the two-lane approach to a two-lane swing bridge that is failing and should be replaced with a four-lane road to a four-lane draw bridge with hourly openings only.

Maybe in future issues you will publish Mr. Rauch’s priority list of projects, their projected cost as well as estimated completion time frames so that he and Mayor Keyserling can safely ride their bicycles to Walmart and home again with all their purchases without incident.

Walter Quackenbush
Lady’s Island

Time to get out front on the pathways

in Bill Rauch/Contributors/Voices by
This map shows all the sidewalks presently on Lady’s Island. Most but not all of these are separated from the cars on the street by just a 10-inch curb. Photo courtesy of Beaufort County Planning Dept.
This map shows all the sidewalks presently on Lady’s Island. Most but not all of these are separated from the cars on the street by just a 10-inch curb. Photo courtesy of Beaufort County Planning Dept.

By Bill Rauch

These will be struggles, but they are struggles worth undertaking.

The residents of Lady’s Island want a path or paths, something along the lines of Beaufort’s Spanish Moss Trail. They have now said that loudly and plainly.

Yet no master plan for Lady’s Island has called for such an improvement. There is no obvious corridor, like for example an abandoned railway corridor. And there’s no money in anyone’s current or proposed budget for such a thing.

This is an effort that begins right at the beginning … right at zero. Thus it is not for the faint of heart.

Yet the potential benefits are enormous: increased property values, better public health, improved quality of life, increased tourism and a stronger and more cohesive community to name a few.

Having heard the call, Beaufort County’s planners have quietly begun working on a plan for pathways on Lady’s Island. Soon we will see a draft plan, parts of which will undoubtedly have merit. Meanwhile, the city of Beaufort, which under the Northern Area Plan will have the responsibility of enforcing the plan, either hasn’t yet heard the call, or has declined to acknowledge it.

That’s probably because the Beaufort City Council knows it will cost whoever steps up with both time and money.

But it is past time for the city to step up for Lady’s Island. That doesn’t mean the city should go it alone financially. It shouldn’t. But it is time for the city to begin providing some leadership.

Here’s a scenario for the upcoming budget season.

Let’s break out the revenues provided to the city’s treasury from Lady’s Island: property taxes, business license taxes, prepared food taxes.  

Add the three figures up and subtract from that sum the city’s reimbursement to the Lady’s Island/St. Helena Fire District. What’s left is roughly what the city is putting into its pocket from Lady’s Island.

Then let’s add a line to the city’s fiscal year 2018 budget: “Implementation of the Lady’s Island Pathway Plan,” and ascribe to it a portion (15 percent?) of what’s left in the pot after the fire district gets paid.

Now the city’s actually got some skin in the game. People notice these things — especially government people. A modest commitment will bring with it modest credibility, which means people start paying attention. That’s when government gets beyond the talking stage and the real stuff starts happening.

But where to start?

The city should begin by staking out the position that the SCDOT should get off its current dark ages of the 20th century posture of replacing the Harbor Island Bridge with a bridge that has no hiker/biker walkway. Beaufort County Council Chairman Paul Sommerville will be right there with the city. State Sen. Tom Davis and the legislative delegation will surely come along too. 

It’s common sense. Why should Beaufort County have to pay for the bridge’s walkway out to one of the state of South Carolina’s signature parks — a park that is by the way growing in size, not shrinking.

The county should not have to pay. The SCDOT should pay for their bridge, including the part people walk and ride bikes on. And they would without a struggle in just about any other county in the state. 

But this is Beaufort County where Hilton Head Island is. So there’s going to be a struggle over who pays. 

Why should the city be in the forefront of the struggle? It is in the city’s interests that there be a good and safe hiker-biker path from the Woods Bridge to Hunting Island State Park.  

When the great path is finally built, and bike clubs from all over the Southeast come here to take that extraordinary (and no hills) ride through history, where will they sleep? In Beaufort’s hotels.

That’s just the beginning.

Now, having put the team together, the city should turn the team’s attention to choosing which portion of the Lady’s Island Pathways plan is the most popular and most doable, and then get to soliciting the state, the county, the SCDOT’s intermodal offices, private foundations, individual donors, and, yes, even the federal government to join the city in supporting Lady’s Island’s Pathway plan.

That’s how projects like these get built: with steady leadership, over time, a portion at a time, with many hands working — and egos buried — and many funding sources contributing.

Lady’s Island’s pathways and the trail to Hunting Island are good projects. They are worthy of the governments’ interest and support. 

Bill Rauch was the mayor of Beaufort from 1999-2008. Email Bill at TheRauchReport@gmail.com.

March trifecta makes month fly by

in Contributors/Lee Scott/Voices by

By Lee Scott

There are three annual events in March that make the month fly by for me.  

First is the “spring forward” time change where we all lose an hour. This day is filled with unhappy people frustrated because some of their electronic clocks refuse to recognize the adjustment.  

Second is the tax return preparation time where we gather all the pertinent information like income statements, copies of tax bills and other important documents and begin the grueling process.   

The third event is the annual spring cleaning. This archaic ritual was practiced by my mother and had been passed down to her by her own mother. 

Mom would designate a weekend in March and assign chores for all of us kids.  The boys generally had the garage and basement to clean and the girls would clean out cabinets, dressers and closets.    

For me, spring cleaning is one of those practices that I both hate and love at the same time. It gives me the opportunity to go through clothes and shoes and follow the “if you haven’t touched it in two years then give it away” rule.  

The piles of magazines we have accumulated are donated and the miscellaneous junk is sorted and discarded.  

My spouse believes that I am morbid because I always say things like “Get rid of it now, so the kids won’t have to do it later.”  

The kitchen cabinets are always an interesting challenge in this process. Normally, there is an item like an open box of raisins sitting on a back shelf all dried up or a box of brown sugar that is hard as a rock. These discoveries remind me to put on some latex gloves. I worry about little critters having a feast in my cabinet.  

One year I found an empty can of soda in the pantry. The can had been punctured and the contents had seeped out all over the back of a shelf.  Everything had to get scrubbed down, including the shelves and the floor. 

But soon, March will be ending and the March trifecta will be behind me. The clocks will all have the correct time, the tax returns will have been filed and once again, my house will be cleaned and organized.  

It is then that I will find out how I did in my March Madness bracket, hoping to see if my favorite team has made the Final Four.  

After all, March should include a little bit of fun.

A first look at the Lady’s Island traffic study

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By Paul Butare, Lady’s Island Business and Professional Association

In July 2016, the city of Beaufort, in conjunction with Beaufort County, commissioned Ward Edwards Engineering to evaluate the short, intermediate and long-term traffic needs for Lady’s Island. 

Stantec was subcontracted to perform the actual study. 

As a basis for the study, traffic counts were taken during a summer weekend and during a weekday when school was in session. The study covered from Woods Bridge to Chowan Creek on Sea Island Parkway, and Rue De Bois on Lady’s Island Drive to Miller Road on Sams Point Road. 

They included projected traffic from all approved and anticipated developments in the area on Lady’s Island and added a small amount of background growth over a 20-year period. 

The results are probably not surprising to many of us: Traffic is up and increasing noticeably. 

With count data from SCDOT, supplemental counts and extensive study of existing and potential roads, the study predicts that with no action taken, traffic increases over the next 10-25 years will produce unacceptable levels of congestion and gridlock. 

Several key “hot spots” were specifically reviewed to include the new Walmart, Lost Island and Little Creek intersections, Sams Point Road and Sea Island Parkway intersection, Sunset Boulevard, Lady’s Island Middle school and Beaufort High School exits onto Sea Island Parkway.

Recently the consultants who conducted the study presented their findings to the community and solicited comments. Following are some of the suggestions made to reduce the negative impact of the projected increases in traffic.

• Airport Circle/Lost Island Drive: Reconfigure Lost Island Drive and Little Creek Road by building a connector/frontage road from Little Creek Road to the new traffic signal at Airport Circle (Walmart). 

Traffic exiting the proposed Taco Bell, Little Creek and Lost Island would be allowed a right turn only. 

Incoming traffic, and traffic which needs to take a left to go toward Beaufort, would be routed to this proposed new access road, running parallel to Sea Island Parkway, up to the new traffic signal at the Walmart and Airport Circle.

In addition, Sea Island Parkway widening would be extended beyond the Airport Circle traffic signal to reduce vehicle queues at the intersection. The land needed to accomplish this is privately owned.

• Cougar Drive (Lady’s Island Middle School): At certain times during the day, the traffic in and out of Cougar Drive can be difficult and potentially dangerous. 

To improve the Lady’s Island Middle School exit from Cougar Drive onto Sea Island Parkway, a road-alignment of Cougar Drive is being considered, leading to a new traffic signal which would be added at the intersection of Gay Drive and Sea Island Parkway as part of a connector road from Lady’s Island Drive. The land needed for an access road is privately owned.

• Intersection of Sams Point Road and Sea Island Parkway: This intersection is already considered “failing” by industry standards and will become worse during peak hours when the new Walmart is opened. 

The new developments on Sams Point Road, such as Oyster Bluff, as well as the new Harris Teeter will make the intersection even more difficult. 

Though not part of this study, it has been reported that Harris Teeter will fund an additional right turn lane from Sea Island Parkway on to Sams Point Road.

Some of the remedies proposed to reduce traffic at this key intersection include adding a right turn lane to Sams Point Road at the Walgreen’s corner, and improving conditions on Sunset Boulevard and Miller Road to allow traffic heading towards the Woods Memorial Bridge to bypass the Sams Point Road/Sea Island Parkway Intersection. 

A traffic signal is proposed at Miller Road and Sams Point Road. Other improvements would include adding traffic calming elements such as sidewalks, trees and a small roundabout at the intersection of Miller and Sunset to help keep speeds low.

This recommendation includes moving of the traffic signal from the present high school exit to the Sunset Boulevard exit onto Sea Island Parkway and building a new connector road to allow the high school traffic to exit at the new signal location. 

• Lady’s Island Drive/Sea Island Parkway Connector Road: To reduce the amount of traffic at the intersection of Lady’s Island Drive and Sea Island Parkway, the development of a connector route from Lady’s Island Drive is proposed by routing traffic from S.C. 802, over a paved Hazel Farm road, connecting with Gay Road, and exiting to Sea Island Parkway where a traffic signal would be added at the intersection of Sea Island Parkway and Gay Road and across from the new Cougar Drive location. Traffic calming measures such as sidewalks, trees and a small roundabout at Inlet Road would also be added.

The study concludes that unless some of the proposals are undertaken, traffic congestion at peak travel times at key intersections will reach a point where delays and travel times from the outer parts of Sea Island Parkway, Lady’s Island Drive and the further Sea Islands of Distant, Lost Island, St. Helena, Dataw, Harbor, Hunting and Fripp to Beaufort and beyond could become unreasonable. 

None of these proposals are quick fixes and the state, county and city do not have funds presently dedicated to making any of them a reality. However, it is an important start to plan for our future, based upon the quantitative data that this study provides.  

We will keep you posted as we receive additional information.

Life is all about the art of ‘doing nothing’

in Contributors/Lee Scott/Voices by

By Lee Scott

My daughter called to say her husband had finally completed the renovation to their kitchen: new cabinets, new tiles; the whole HGTV redo.  

She said that after he was done, he spread out on the couch and announced he was going to relax and “do nothing.”

She left to go shopping and when she returned home, she found him in the kitchen marinating a roast and preparing fresh vegetables. 

“What happened to your relaxing?” she asked.  

“I just could not keep still.” he replied.

It was after she told me about this occurrence that I shared my recent “do nothing” experience. 

It had been a very hectic week and it was my time to relax. The hammock hanging between the two large pine trees in our backyard was calling me. I stretched out in it and started to get comfortable when I realized I was missing a stick to help me swing. 

Knowing there were some sticks in the garage that would fit the bill, I went in and found a rake instead. 

As I was heading back to the hammock, I noticed all the pine cones under it, and decided since I had a rake in my hand, I should just gather them up. That’s when I noticed the garden next to the pine trees was also full of pine cones.  

I went back to the garage, grabbed a large garbage pail and proceeded to rake up the pine cones and scoop them into the garbage can.  

The garden looked so good, but did need a bit of weeding. Back to the garage for my gardening gloves and some garden tools. 

I plucked the weeds and then picked up the camellia blossoms that had fallen from the nearby bush.

The garden looked so good, but needed some watering. Back to the garage for the hose.  

As I stood there watering the garden, I realized the hammock was getting watered also. That is when it hit me!  What happened to my “do nothing” time? How was I suddenly up again doing something and ruining my down time? 

As I continued to water the flowers, I realized how relaxing it was to stand there and enjoy the sight of the garden. 

So I told my daughter, “As it turns out, sometimes ‘doing nothing’ means doing something you enjoy. Enjoy your dinner, Faith.”

Bill would build bridge to brighter future

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By Tim Scott

Restoring hope and opportunity is critical to lifting up our communities who feel like they have been left behind. We have people all across the country living paycheck to paycheck who are forced to make choices no family should, like whether they should pay for heat in the winter or purchase necessary medications. 

Our country has witnessed underemployment rates soar, high school graduation rates drop and poverty numbers remain stagnant.

With more than 50 million individuals living in distressed communities, we must do more to help those who cannot help themselves. We can begin to lift these folks up by working together to create a system that leads to good paying jobs and brightens the path ahead for so many of our hardworking Americans. 

In South Carolina alone, we have about one million people stuck in distressed communities. That means 30 percent of South Carolina’s population live in distressed ZIP codes; 46 percent of adults living in these locations are not working; and 15 percent of them who are 25 years and older haven’t earned a high school diploma. 

These numbers are truly devastating. 

My family struggled when I was growing up in North Charleston. I had a loving mother who worked 18-hour days to take care of our family. Despite her best efforts to keep us afloat, I still went to school with holes in my shoes. 

It is thanks to her guidance, and the mentorship of an inspiring leader I met while I was in high school, that I found a way to break through the constraints of poverty.  

I believe that every American, regardless of their background, race or socioeconomic status, should have the same opportunity to succeed  —  because every single one of us has immense God-given potential. 

That is why I teamed up with a bipartisan group of lawmakers, who also share this goal and passion, to reintroduce the Investing in Opportunity Act (IIOA). 

This legislation, originally cosponsored by Sen. Cory Booker, D-NJ, Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio, and Ron Kind, D-Wisc., will incentivize investment in economically distressed communities in every state, without creating a new government program. 

By encouraging the creation of geographically-targeted funds, the bill creates new channels for investment in small businesses, supporting entrepreneurs, developing blighted properties, investing in local infrastructure projects and other activities to create new opportunities for local residents.

If signed into law, IIOA would remove barriers to investment through a temporary capital gains deferral in exchange for reinvesting in distressed communities. It will provide a new way for investors across the nation to pool resources through newly-created Opportunity Funds, established specifically for making investments in distressed communities, which would be located in Opportunity Zones designated by state governors. 

The intent is to encourage investors to make long-term commitments to these communities by tying incentives to long-term change.

Our most vulnerable communities across the country lack opportunities, investment potential and tangible growth. Businesses are closing and we are facing a shortage of entrepreneurs.  We want to revolutionize how we help some of our most financially distressed neighborhoods. 

My hope is the IIOA will reinvest private sector dollars back into helping everyday Americans improve their quality of life.

Tim Scott is a United States senator representing South Carolina.

South Carolina annexation laws must be updated

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By the Lady’s Island Business and Professional Association

The city of Beaufort recently announced its intention to annex a private golf course and 10 businesses along Sea Island Parkway. 

Hilton Head is considering annexing an undeveloped island.  

With this in mind perhaps another look at South Carolina annexation laws is in order.  

The first thing that must be remembered in regard to annexation in South Carolina is that for a municipality to consider annexation of a piece of unincorporated property it must be contiguous to property already in the municipality.  

The word “contiguous” is not defined as simple as it sounds. For example, if the two properties are linked by water and a line of sight can be established, that has been defined as contiguous properties.  

In an effort to achieve contiguous status to property some extreme cases have occurred in recent years in Beaufort County. For example, a municipality, in an unsuccessful effort to bring a large piece of undeveloped property into the town, annexed a 20-foot strip of land in a property that served as an alleged connection between the undeveloped property and the municipality. 

This contiguous requirement is also responsible for what is commonly referred to as “shoe string” annexations in which a series of smaller properties are annexed to allow achievement of a contiguous status to a larger and more desirable piece of property.

The second thing which should be noted is that South Carolina annexation law, as a general rule, requires the property owner to request the annexation and does not allow a municipality to annex property without concurrence of the property owner.  

The restrictive nature of this requirement places a burden on South Carolina municipalities in regard to growth and planning for growth. North Carolina law allows annexation when growth reaches an established point of density in contiguous property and does not require property owner concurrence or approval.   

At the present time in South Carolina, the three ways a municipality can annex a piece of contiguous property are:

1. The property owner(s) request to be annexed.  

2. When there are multiple property owners such as a subdivision or community and 75 percent of homeowners or businesses owning 75 percent of the assessed valuation of the property request to be annexed.

3. When 25 percent of the property owners petition for a special election on the question of annexation and if the results of the election supports annexation such action can be accomplished by ordinance.

These restrictions on annexation do an excellent job of protecting the rights of individual property owners. However, it makes the planned and orderly growth of a municipality almost impossible. This is especially true in Beaufort County since a common annexation enticement for property owners outside of the municipal boundaries are water and sewer services.  

Since Beaufort-Jasper Water & Sewer Authority is an independent entity responsible for providing these services this is not an enticement for annexation available to our local municipalities. As a result, more liberal development standards are often utilized as an enticement to annexation. 

In the recent annexation of commercial property on Lady’s Island, the city of Beaufort used a combination of a “stick and carrot” approach by inviting annexation by request (No. 1 above) with an enticement of a single payment equivalent to three years of property taxes or reimbursement of a portion of the property taxes on a declining scale for a period of seven years. 

The stick aspect was to advise the targeted property owner that the city (in this case) had the alternative to annex their property without their request under the 75 percent/25 percent rule (No. 2 above). Reportedly all of the property owners involved in the recent annexation chose the carrot over the stick method.   

Another frustrating aspect of the present annexation laws is the increasing number of parcels of property (commonly called doughnut holes) which are surrounded by municipal property but remaining unincorporated.  

Recently there have been some efforts in the state legislature to allow municipalities to annex existing doughnut holes ranging up to a maximum size of 25 acres but to date the effort has not been able to gain support.

The annexation laws of South Carolina are outdated and need to be brought into modern times. However, it is not likely to happen in the near future because there is very little popular support for such changes.  

As a result, Lady’s Island can anticipate continuing to be a blended community with most of the commercial portion in the city of Beaufort and most of the residential portion remaining in the unincorporated portion of Beaufort County. 

Sanford: Obamacare replacement offered

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By Mark Sanford, R-SC
U.S. House of Representatives

Republicans in Washington have voted more than 60 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act, what many call Obamacare. It was popular to do so. It was also a safe vote. 

But that has changed because, for just the fourth time in the history of our republic, voters gave Republicans the keys to the House, Senate and White House.

Repeal is no longer a symbolic vote. It could bring with it change that some would like and others wouldn’t.

And so what we have seen in Congress recently is backtracking. Maybe we will repeal Obamacare, but not in its entirety. Maybe we will repeal, but not replace.

It’s essential we do both. I’d humbly submit that Congress should not just be against something, it should be for something too —especially here. Health is vital and personal. It can mean life or death. It affects those you most love. All these things make it crucial that we are thoughtful in offering a remedy.

It’s for these reasons that Sen. Rand Paul and I are introducing the Obamacare Replacement Act. Our plan is built around free market principles vital to improving any product or service but, in this case, necessary to better care, access and pricing.

These things are missing in healthcare and were made worse with Obamacare. What we do is assemble the building blocks that would create a market and empower each of us in our healthcare decisions.

Our plan legalizes less expensive health insurance.

Think about it. Right now, you can’t buy inexpensive plans. With aging comes more ailments, and yet if you’re young you can’t purchase a simple plan that fits your shorter list of aches and pains. 

Obamacare’s minimum coverage mandates mean that each of us has to buy a plan that has what government deems essential, even if we don’t need them. This drives up cost, and consequently many young people simply skip on health insurance. 

Government dictating content and enrollment is hardly a monument to freedom, but it’s been catastrophic in escalating cost and limiting choice. In South Carolina, we are now down to one Obamacare insurance provider, and average premiums increased by 28 percent this year.

Our plan affords the rest of us what employers already have.

This is big. If an employer offers health insurance to an employee, the cost is deducted. The rest of us don’t get the same. 

Health insurance was linked to employment as a way of getting around the wage and price controls of World War II, but it shouldn’t be this way today. You don’t get your home or car insurance through your work, and doing so would create problems. 

Some people stay with jobs they don’t like just to hang onto health insurance; still others spend more thinking they are spending others’ money. Feeling like you are spending someone else’s money does not help when it comes to market pricing.

To further competitive forces, we allow you to buy health insurance across state lines, just as you do with other forms of insurance. We also allow you to create buying power that comes with scale. One Realtor isn’t much in the market, but 100,000 Realtors pooled together gives them the buying power of a large corporation.

We strengthen an individual’s health savings account (HSA) to help boost people spending their own money. Did you know that with services like Lasik or plastic surgery, the areas of medicine where people spend their own money, prices have come down? Our plan expands HSA access to everyone, removes the contribution limit and gives a non-refundable tax credit of up to $5,000 a year.

We even incorporate a few good ideas from Obamacare.

This plan lets children stay on their parent’s plan until the age of 26. It’s reasonable to let someone deal with the costs of life after they have gotten started in life and finished school. We allow for pre-existing conditions because some of us will be more fortunate than others here. I don’t want my sister to get cancer, but if she did, I would struggle with the idea of an insurance company knocking her off the rolls based on her misfortune. 

So in our plan, as long as you buy insurance and stay on it, they can’t kick you off. Obamacare did the reverse. It incentivized people waiting until they were sick to get insurance. This proved to be one of its fatal flaws, and our bill fixes it. Think about it like this: Do you wait until your house is burning to buy fire insurance?

Obamacare was supposed to expand insurance options and lower premiums. We were promised that if we liked our plan, we could keep it. It didn’t work out that way. It’s time for a change.

U.S. House Rep. Mark Sanford, R-SC, will hold a Beaufort County Town Hall meeting from 2-3 p.m. Friday, March 3, at the Technical College of the Lowcountry Student Center, Building 12, at 921 Ribaut Road.

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