Annexations Continue, Accountability Still Absent

The Beaufort City Council acted Tuesday night to annex another large piece of Lady’s Island, voting to acquire 56 parcels part of Secession Golf Club and 11 more along the Sea Island Parkway, all businesses.

The annexations have met with mixed reactions.

Chris Butler, of Butler Marine, told the Beaufort Gazette that “Early on it’s going to reduce some costs for us. But ultimately in the long run it will cost us more money.”

Butler was referring to the annexation inducement program offered by the City which would increase the tax impacts only slightly over a several year period, then reaching parity. Butler estimated after the initial discounts that being in the city would begin to cost him more in about 12 years.

Increased taxes aside, business owners claimed the City’s offer was made in an “intimidating” manner. “Pay me now or pay me later,” said one business owner. “Either way they were going to annex, whether we wanted it or not.”

The Sea Island Coalition did not oppose the action since so much of the annexation was on the south part of the island and in effect pushed further development further from the island’s “epicenter” – the Sea Island Parkway/Sam’s Point Road intersection. As for the accompanying annexations of eleven business sites along the parkway, the Coalition did not see change in jurisdiction having significant alternative impact.

The Coalition expressed concern, however, with the lack of political accountability that accompanied the annexations.  In annexing business properties and ignoring residential, City officials were acquiring taxable properties and raising their taxes without risking any political backlash at the ballot box.

“We all know that people vote, and businesses don’t,” said a Coalition spokesperson. “Neither the Mayor nor any of the City Council live on Lady’s Island, and as a result have little personal stake in what happens here,” she said.

Read the Beaufort Gazette’s coverage here.
Watch WSAV-TV’s Jun 25 story here.

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