Tax bills can vary
Recently, a Lancaster County resident wrote regarding a "tax revolt" coming to Sun City in Indian Land. While we would never discuss a resident's tax bill data in public without their consent, based solely upon the information in the letter, there are likely several reasons why the tax on "land only" may well be higher than the tax bill the writer will receive once their house is built and occupied.
1. There are different tax assessment rates for owner-occupied residences and open land owned by a resident that lives elsewhere. The latter rate is 50 percent higher under South Carolina law.
2. Tax bills for open land include taxes for school operations while tax bills for owner-occupied residences do not include taxes for school operations.
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3. Certain areas, including Sun City, have special assessments included on tax bills to cover the cost of infrastructure bonds and/or enhanced public safety services. Under state law, Lancaster County must collect bond payments on the property tax bill and remit those funds to the bond holders on an annual basis. No bond payments go to Lancaster County, and that assessment will disappear once the bond has been paid.
I would encourage any residents who have a question regarding their property tax bill to contact the county auditor and/or county assessor to discuss their particular situation.
As to the complaint regarding utility rates, the Lancaster County Water and Sewer District is not in any way associated with Lancaster County government, so the writer would need to discuss those issues with the Water and Sewer District staff and/or board of directors.
Congress hasn't changed its ways
John Spratt is a living example of contradictions. Last fall, he campaigned against spend-happy Republicans and said more than once on the campaign trail, "If you elect me, and Democrats take control of Congress, we'll put the budget back in order." Of course, campaigns are one thing, while actually doing what you promise is something else.
What's the basis for such a claim? It's Rep. Spratt's Web site. See for yourself that Rep. Spratt has registered $124,241,214 in earmarks for the 2008 fiscal budget. A second contradiction is found when you click on "About John" and then "Budget Committee." The first thing you see is the national debt and your share of it. The very next thing you see is an article from Oct. 7 that outlines how Democrats are going to restore fiscal discipline to the budget.
Excuse me? How? Rep. Spratt is chairman of House Budget Committee. He should be setting the example. Well, I guess he is. The Wall Street Journal reported recently that Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., has steered at least $600 million dollars to his home district over the last four years. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
It's our money, folks. It's not Washington's, but unless we do something about it, these guys will continue to waste, give away and squander our hard-earned tax money. It's a disgrace, and they should be ashamed. The problem is too many of the electorate are ignorant of all the set-asides and giveaways that are part of the Washington elite known as the U.S. Congress.
Keith R. Sutton
The sales tax offers a choice
In your Oct. 24 editorial "Savings small for most," The Herald once again engages in journalistic malpractice. While castigating property tax relief and labeling the shift to sales taxes as "regressive," you completely ignore the real reason for minimal savings on property tax bills -- the local school boards.
In the York school district, the bond levy increased from 32 mils to 78 mils, or a whopping 144 percent, which amounts to a tax increase of $219 on a median value home in the district. Amazingly, the Herald editorial board wrote in favor of this increase, which affects every homeowner.
Or what about the 1-cent county sales tax for roads? Did the editors denounce it and encourage a no vote because it was "regressive"? Of course not. The bottom line is, sales taxes offer citizens a choice. Necessities such as food are not taxed at the same rate and medical prescriptions are exempt, so each taxpayer has a choice whether to pay the tax or not.
Property taxes, on the other hand, are taken from homeowners under threat of having their homes confiscated; this is obviously the system The Herald editors prefer.
There is another name for this when anyone other than government agencies engage in it. It is called extortion.