News briefs for October 19th-25th

12 mins read

Hargray awards Beaufort grant for infrastructure

The city of Beaufort has been awarded a $300,000 grant by Hargray Communications Inc. for road and infrastructure improvements in Commerce Park. 

According to a release, “Hargray’s executive team, which is based in the Lowcountry, understands the importance of economic development. Furthermore, Hargray has also agreed to partner with the city in the efforts to bring an advanced fiber-optic infrastructure to Commerce Park. 

To further the partnership between Hargray and the city, they are also bringing high speed wi-fi service to the Henry C. Chambers Park in downtown Beaufort. 

Mayor Billy Keyserling thanked Hargray for the grant and for its support in improving the infrastructure throughout the city. 

Online driver’s license renewal now available

The South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (SCDMV) recently announced a new way for South Carolina residents to do business with the agency. 

Most South Carolinians who have a regular (Class D, E, F, M, or any combination of the four) driver’s license, whose driving privileges are in good standing, can renew their license from home at www.scdmvonline.com.

“This eliminates the need to visit an SCDMV branch and keeps wait times and lines shorter for the public,” said Executive Director Kevin Shwedo. “We’re a customer-centric agency, and this is a small step in the process of bringing the SCDMV to customers, instead of making customers come to us.” 

Drivers will need to visit the SCDMV every other time they are due for renewal in order to take a new photograph for their license, as long as their driving privileges remain in good standing. 

Those with a commercial driver’s license or identification card or international customers must continue to visit an SCDMV branch to renew their license or ID. Due to state and federal laws, these cards are not available for online renewal. 

State law no longer requires vision screenings for most people when they renew their license. This means there’s no reason for many people to visit the SCDMV. A vision screening is still required for a customer to receive his or her first South Carolina beginner’s permit or driver’s license or if returning to the state after being licensed in a different state. 

“Customers who did not renew their license the last time by mail can go to our website, confirm their address, and order their new license with a valid credit card,” said Director of Driver Services Annie Phelps. “We’ll use your current photograph and mail your new license. When renewing online, you’ll pay $12.50 for a five-year license. Please destroy your old license when you receive your new one.” 

Running better meetings focus of workshop

Better, shorter, and/or more productive meetings … need a refresher? 

A monthly workshop is being conducted to study and correctly apply Robert’s Rules of Order. The study group will meet at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 6, at the Beaufort Branch Library at 311 Scott St.

Beginners and/or intermediates will learn about agendas, preparation of minutes, proper use of motions, bylaws and more.

This event is free to the public and will be facilitated by Janet Jacobs of the National Association of Parliamentarians.  

Call or text 386-871-8855 or email Janet Jacobs at parliamentarystudy@gmail.com for more information. While not necessary, an RSVP is appreciated.

Marines foundation accepting nominations 

The Marine Corps Heritage Foundation has begun accepting nominations for its 2018 Annual Awards Program.

Each year the foundation presents a series of awards for creative works preserving or advancing Marine Corps history, traditions, culture or service. Marines and civilians are eligible to submit their own artistic entries or the distinguished work of others.

The foundation honors individuals who have demonstrated leadership in their profession by presenting the John A. Lejeune for Exemplary Leadership Award and recognizes those who have provided unique and significant service to the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation with the Heritage Award. 

Last year’s Lejeune Award winners were President George H.W. Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush, while the former chairman of the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, Gen. Walter E. Boomer, USMC (Ret), was honored with the Heritage Award. 

Submitting a nomination is free. For additional information on the Annual Awards Program, visit www.marineheritage.org; or to schedule an interview about the program with a foundation representative, contact Paulo Sibaja at psibaja@susandavis.com or 202-414-0798.

Taxpayers have started seeing lower car values 

A change in motor vehicle valuation method has taken two years to complete due to the recent reprogramming of the Beaufort County system that has been in place since 2009. 

Previously, a vehicle’s value was determined using the highest trim level for that model in the Department of Revenue (DOR) valuation guide. Because the vast majority of vehicles on the road are base or mid-level models, many vehicles have been over-valued. 

In August 2015, Jim Beckert said, “Our practices need to change to reflect the guidance given by DOR and be in line with our neighboring and peer counties.”

The new programming selects the lowest-valued vehicle in a model group from the DOR valuation guide if the vehicle’s trim level is not clearly identified. 

It is estimated that this valuation change will impact hundreds, if not thousands, of vehicles each month. Over the past four months, the fair market value (FMV) on vehicle renewal bills has been reduced by millions of dollars in FMV, reducing vehicle taxes for many taxpayers.

During this calendar year, new vehicles that were added to the tax rolls resulted in very modest growth of the total FMV of vehicles county-wide.

The Beaufort County auditor’s new project will help reduce vehicle tax bills even further. State law allows citizens to appeal the DOR mandated value of their vehicle. When the DOR guide is issued to counties and available for use, it is already six months old. By the time the tax year ends, the guide values are 18 months old. 

By using the appeal process, Beaufort County citizens have the opportunity to have their vehicle value reviewed by the auditor to take any depreciation that has accumulated into consideration where the DOR guide does not.

For more information, email auditor@bcgov.net.

Port Royal has three new members of council

The Town of Port Royal, in conjunction with the Board of Voter Registration and Elections of Beaufort County, has announced that the town will not be conducting its general elections scheduled for Nov. 7 for two town council seats nor an unexpired town council seat. 

Incumbents Mary Beth Gray Heyward and Darryl Owens were the only candidates to file for their open seats. Robert Landrum filed for the two-year term that became open when Tom Klein resigned.

The Town of Port Royal Municipal Election Commission will meet at 10 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 9, in the Board of Elections and Voter Registration of Beaufort County conference room, located at 15 John Galt Road, Beaufort, to certify the candidates as the official winners.

AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint having connection issues

People using AT&T for carrier service or T-Mobile and Sprint mobile devices may experience intermittent connection issues when attempting to call Beaufort County landline phones with a “255” prefix due to data transmission issues with Hargray, the county’s carrier for landline services. 

County departments can be contacted online via email from the county’s website, www.bcgov.net. Hargray is actively working to resolve the matter. 

Tax bills have been reviewed, processed

The Beaufort County Assessor’s Office has announced that all completed legal residence applications submitted to its office were reviewed and processed when tax bills were issued.

Beaufort County Assessor Gary James stated, “Beaufort County is up to date on its review of all legal residence applications. When data was transferred for inclusion in the tax bill run on Oct. 6, all complete applications received and reviewed as of that date had the appropriate exemptions applied to the real property records.”

The Assessor’s Office is currently processing applications within one week of receipt.

James cautioned that due to a heavy application workload after bills are received by taxpayers, a slightly longer approval timeframe might occur, but his office will continue its efforts to focus on minimizing the delay in approvals, allowing ample time for taxpayers to pay the adjusted amounts. 

For more information, contact the Beaufort County Assessor’s Office at 843-255-2400.

CORRECTIONS

A story in the Oct. 12 edition misidentified the district that Beaufort County School District board member Evva Anderson represents. She represents District 7. 

In the same story, Jerry Smith’s name was misspelled.

The Island News regrets the errors.

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