New Town Hall 

Over twenty years ago, our first Mayor, Joan Sooy, purchased property for a Town Hall.    When the City of Charleston and the South Carolina Supreme Court took the first Town away from the people of James Island, that property was lost, but not the dream.   Now that we have a fourth and final incorporation, the Town is ready to move forward.

I made the announcement at the February Council meeting and it was thoroughly discussed at the Budget Workshop in March. We pay $70,000 a year for our rented storefront and there was a strong consensus on Council that we should instead make a permanent investment in a new home.   The Town’s 2015-16 budget, which passed unanimously in June, included $200,000 towards the Town Hall.

I hope Council will select an architect and engineering firm at our August meeting.   One of that firm’s first tasks will be a needs assessment for the proper size of our Town Hall.  I have been thinking that we will need between 25% and 50% more space than our current 4400 square feet—somewhere between 5500 and 7000 square feet, but any final decision must wait.   Of course, affordability will also be a major concern.   One of our criterion for design will be a Town Hall that is "addition friendly."

In February, I proposed funding Town Hall with a bond issue.  Municipalities cannot have mortgages like homeowners or even businesses.   After discussion with our bond attorney, we discovered that if the Town sells bonds, South Carolina law requires that we put a millage on the tax bill.   I believe that the Town would be required to provide a property tax credit against the resulting tax liability.  Of course, I would want to provide such a credit rather than increase taxes on the property owners of our Town.

After further discussions with our attorneys, we determined that lease purchase is a better option than a bond sale.   Therefore, the Town has introduced a property tax millage for payment for Town Hall by lease purchase agreement.   The Town will also use a small part of the funds to maintain a reserve.   As part of the review of the Town's Emergency Plan this spring, our consultant recommended that we begin a reserve fund.

The Town is also providing a property tax credit against this millage.  The credit will be sufficient to zero out the tax liability for all taxpayers.   While the millage will appear on the tax bill, so will a tax credit equal to the amount of the tax liability.   The net tax liability due to the Town will be zero.   The Town's proposal to fund Town Hall will not increase anyone's property tax.

In South Carolina, property tax millage is part of the annual budget process.   If the millage is not renewed each year, it will be removed.   In effect, property tax automatically has a "sunset" provision each and every year.   I anticipate asking Council to continue on the current course in the 2016-17 fiscal year.   If, however, Council does not approve the millage, the minimum lease payments for Town Hall will still be affordable.  Unfortunately, we would have to slow down other capital improvements like paving roads and completing sidewalks for a substantial period of time.   The more we pay now, the sooner Town Hall will be paid off and the smaller the total cost.   I believe the approach to funding Town Hall that was approved by Council by a 3-2 vote is in the best interest of the Town.

Mayor Bill Woolsey

Posted by Bill Saturday, August 1, 2015 9:08:00 AM

County Funding Approved for Camp Road Sidewalk 

Charleston County Council approved the Town's request for matching funds for construction of the Camp Road Sidewalk Phase II.

This is Transportation Sales Tax (TST)  funding.  The Town will use $85,000 of Town funds and Charleston County will match that with $85,000 of TST money.  The Town has already funded the design work.

Phase II of the Camp Road Sidewalk project will provide sidewalk along Camp Road between Dills Bluff Road and Secessionville Road.  

We hope that construction will be completed in the Spring of 2016

Thank you to Charleston County Council for helping the Town of James Island with this project.

 

 

Posted by Bill Thursday, July 30, 2015 3:27:00 PM

Town Tax Plan 

Council approved on a 3-2 vote a 20 mil property tax and a $2,948,058 property tax credit.   The millage will appear on the October property tax bill as will a Town property tax credit.   The amount of tax due to the Town will be zero on all tax bills.   Here is an example of a property tax bill including the Town millage and tax credit.

$2,948,058  is equal to the total amount of revenue the Town has received from the LOST (Local Option Sales Tax) Property Tax Credit Fund since 2012, along with the interest earned on those funds, as well as the amount the Town anticipates receiving during the 2015-16 fiscal year.

The millage is for payment for a Town Hall by lease purchase agreement and the maintenance of a reserve.

The Town's tax plan will not increase the property tax of any taxpayer.  However, I deeply regret that I was unable to convince a majority of JIPSD Commissioners to reduce rather than raise their property tax and allow the Town to pay the JIPSD for solid waste collection by contract.   That plan would have allowed for a substantial reduction in property tax in the Town.  Even though a reduction in property tax was not possible this year, I still believe that it is in the best interest of the Town to provide a  tax credit against its own millage.  I appreciate the support of the majority of Town Council.

I hope that a property tax reduction will be possible in the near future, most likely after the 2016 JIPSD elections.

Mayor Bill Woolsey

 

 

 

Posted by Bill Friday, July 24, 2015 10:15:00 PM

First Baptist Church Community Outreach Day 

First Baptist Church of James Island will be having a Community Outreach Day.  A day of food, fun, clothes giveaway, information on health care, substance abuse disorder, financial services and much more. There will also be a school supply drive.  We are asking for donations of school supplies: new book bags, wide ruled and college ruled paper, pencils, pens and mechanical pencils, large and small erasers, pencil boxes, pencil pouches, colored pencils, markers, highlighters, rulers, pencil sharpeners, index cards, crayons, dry erase markers, glue sticks, composition books, safety scissors, 3-ring binders, notebook tab dividers and pocket folders.   Please see flyer for more information.

Posted by Robin Thursday, July 23, 2015 12:04:00 PM

Notice of RFQ Evaluation Committee Meeting 

The Town of James Island will meet on Tuesday, July 28, 2015 at 3:00 p.m. in an Executive Session to discuss contractual matters for a Request for Qualification (RFQ) for a Town Hall.

 

 

Posted by Frances Wednesday, July 22, 2015 9:36:00 AM
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