Trent Kernodle has filed a class action suit against the Town of James Island.
Former JIPSD Chairman David Engelman, JIPSD Candidate Sandi Engelman, and former JIPSD Commissioner Rod Welch have signed onto the complaint.
The suit seeks to force the Town to implement the policy Trent Kernodle proposed in his 2014 campaign for Mayor--mail the checks.
The funds in question are those that the Town has received since 2012 from the Local Option Sales Tax Property Tax Credit Fund. The Town has received $1,982,736 since 2012. Our monthly financial reports are here. The proportional share of Town's interest earnings on these funds is $446.
Trent Kernodle is asking that all of those funds be distributed to the property owners of the Town along with more than $200,000 worth of interest and lawyer fees--that is, money for himself and two other law firms.
The Town Attorney, Bo Wilson, is defending. We have retained Danny Crowe, former general counsel for the Municipal Association of South Carolina, to help. The Town has relied on the Municipal Association's advice that because we have no tax millage, there is no legal obligation for the Town to provide a tax credit. A tax credit is a reduction in the amount charged on a tax bill. There are many municipalities in South Carolina in the same situation as the Town. They receive Local Option Sales Tax funds and have no property tax millage. As far as I know, none of them mail out refund checks.
I have proposed to Town Council that we introduce a property tax of 35.1 mills. The Town will be obligated to provide a tax credit against our own millage. It is my goal to follow the South Carolina LOST statute exactly. The Kernodle suit has reinforced my commitment to this policy.
I renew my call for the James Island Public Service District to reduce the millage they charge in the Town so that the we may obtain fire services by contract. Many municipalities obtain fire services from a special purpose district by contract, including the City of Folly Beach and the City of Charleston from the James Island Public Service District. A contract between the Town and the JIPSD would result in a 31% property tax cut for homeowners in the Town this year.
If you have any questions or concerns, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 697-7020.
.Mayor Bill Woolsey