The Van Wyck News

Volume 6 Number 26
A Voice for Freedom      16 November 2014
Lancaster County Budget Problems
     Lancaster County suffers from severe budget problems every year because the tax revenue from its assessed valuation increases by only about $1.8MM per year even if it raises taxes by the maximum amount. At the same time the County  expense budget is rising by at least $4MM every year.
     For many years the County has relied on one time money to provide the difference. It raised its building permit fees into the clouds and makes several million dollars each year from the sale of building permits. The Haile Gold Mine received its operating permit recently and already the talk is of $1MM in additional building permit fees being available to spend, much of it in FY 2016. Recently the County has increased the fees that it charges developers to build housing; these fees will also end up financing things normally bought out of the General Fund, thus freeing up General Fund money to use for other ongoing expenses.
    The difficulty with this approach is that when houses are built they do not usually generate enough tax revenue to support the governmental services that they require. Maintaining Lancaster County governmental services thus requires ever expanding new construction to generate the building permit and development agreement fees required to balance the budget, which features an ever expanding gap between tax revenue and expenses.
     The same argument applies to the overall County economy. For the first few years after a housing development is approved money flows into the local economy, buying building materials and paying carpenters, electricians, etc. to build the houses. After a few years the building activity ceases, leaving the houses, which generate relatively little tax revenue. Without new homebuilding activity to provide jobs and business the County is in trouble.
     The solution to this situation is to build commercial property, which is taxed at a higher rate than residential property and typically produces a surplus of tax revenue after the buildings are built. With an appropriate mix of commercial and residential property it is possible to arrive at an area where the tax revenue is sufficient to support required governmental services. To do this requires planning, which Lancaster County has never been willing to do. County Council makes Comprehensive Plans, it is true, but then regards them as negotiable in working with developers.
     Development consumes land and generally once land is developed the development cannot be undone. Eventually the land must run out and financing County budget with new development is no longer possible. If the land is all developed without a reasonable mix of commercial and residential property it cannot produce enough tax revenue to support the governmental services it will require under the taxing authority given to the County. The solution will be either incorporation as a city or town, which can levy the additional taxes needed to support the enhanced government or special tax districts to levy the additional taxes. Indian Land is in this situation now. The development was completely unplanned and virtually all residential. The demands for enhanced governmental services are coming in and the County has no way to meet them without additional revenue, which is being provided through Special Tax Districts.
     The County seeks to expand into Van Wyck to gain additional land to pursue random development and continue to support itself with residential development. If this is allowed to happen Van Wyck will soon become Indian Land South, with inadequate roads and schools, little commercial development and incurable long term problems. The people of Van Wyck are fighting this incursion into the area by this unsustainable method of development. We are working on incorporation, which will protect us from the County and allow the required planning to take place. 
     People from other areas of the County could learn from and assist with this situation, which is doing great harm to the school system and which will affect everyone in the County. Sooner or later the system has to crash. Send me email or give me a call (803)246-0001.

Privacy Policy

County Special Tax District
     District 7 Councilman Brian Carnes has proposed a Special Tax District for the areas of District 7 and District 1, which includes Van Wyck. The proposed tax would be about $115 per house, and would provide for doubling the number of Sheriffs Deputies on duty in the affected area. The proposal is in response to increasing numbers of 911 calls, arrests and requests for increased police presence in Indian Land.
     Councilman Carnes is the Chair of the County Finance Committee and has determined that the County cannot fund this expansion of police services in Indian Land from the General Fund. He attributes this lack of money to lack of funding from the state., which is certainly part of the problem. The fundamental difficulty is, however, the stubborn insistence of the County on funding its General Fund with one time money coming from homebuilding as described in the column to the left. It would, of course, be fundamentally wrong to ask the entire County to pay for a service to be provided to only a small segment of the County, although that aspect of the situation seems not to have been mentioned.
    Van Wyck residents wishing to be excluded from Special Tax District and the enhanced police protection that it will provide should call and email Councilman Carnes (803-288-3290; briancarnes@lancastercountysc.net) and tell him that the Special Tax District should apply to the service areas of the Pleasant Valley and Indian Land Fire Districts only.    

Incorporation
     Incorporation of Van Wyck as a city is virtually the only way to stay out of the morass that Indian Land will soon become. This Special Tax District for Police Protection ($115 per house per year) comes on top of  the Special Tax District for Fire Protection ($75 per house per year) implemented a few years ago, and the end is not in sight. These Special Tax District payments total about the same as the County property tax bill on a $100,000 house. Put another way, the owner of a $100,000 house in Indian Land will see his/her County property tax bill about double due to Special Tax District payments for enhanced Fire and Police protection.
     Incorporation gives Van Wyck control over its own Fire and Police protection. Residents of Van Wyck will end up  paying taxes, no doubt, but they will be Van Wyck Taxes levied by the City of Van Wyck because Van Wyck people requested services and are paying for what they requested, not arbitrary and much higher taxes levied by the County at the request of the big spenders in Indian Land. The time to get out from under is now.
     Consider signing an Incorporation or Annexation Petition now. Questions: Call me (803-246-0001) or email me at jrwilt@vanwyckpress.com.     

CDC Fall Calendar 
29 November - Put up Poles for Lighting of the Way. Time TBA. Chili after. 
2 December - Monthly Meeting at the Community center. CrimeWatch at 7:00 PM; CDC at 7:30 PM. 
 
13 December at Noon - Christmas Parade with Santa and Mrs. Claus inside the Community Center after the parade. Games and goodies too. Globes and candles out for Lighting of the Way after the parade.Flyer.
14 December, 4:30 PM - Lighting of the Way begins at the Post Office with a brief service and moves up Old Hickory Road lighting the candles with stops for brief services at Van Wyck Presbyterian Church and Van Wyck Methodist Church. The people then go to Trinity Presbyterian Church and White Oak AME Zion Church for brief services, and end up at the Community Center for hot cider and cookies. This year the poles will be left up until New Years Day so that the candles can be lit on New Year's Eve.        
JRWilt
J.R. Wilt, Editor
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