Let’s get back to some common sense in government.
As your former mayor, I have a long track record of effective leadership, sound judgment, and extensive experience in the public arena that proves my commitment to responsible governance.
For almost 10 years, I never raised your taxes; didn’t assume outrageous debt; introduced community policing; always protected our residential neighborhoods and our precious Historic District; gave Mossy Oaks its sidewalks; gave downtown its Street Scape; and replaced an antiquated and smelly sewer plant for a new state-of-the-art one outside the city and got Southside Park in the deal.
I believe I served you well as mayor, and I have several ideas for serving you again if you entrust me with your vote.
I have three priorities:
1. Creating a business friendly environment that encourages creation of new businesses and expansion of existing ones, which includes simplifying the review/approval/permitting of new businesses to encourage them to succeed, not drown them in red tape.
2. Good financial decisions without raising taxes.
3. Preservation of existing neighborhoods, our parks and the Historic District.
Beaufort needs to live within its means just like your households. However, in recent years it has not done that.
The cost of government has doubled since I was mayor, but the population has only increased by about 550 people. Beaufort has taken on so much debt, much due to extravagant spending, that recently it’s been paying $1.5 million every year for principal and interest.
Important to a healthy business climate is not adopting taxes that penalize business. But recently, council established a “special ‘tax’ district” for all Beaufort’s SCE&G customers. Soon, everyone will be charged a 40 percent increase in the franchise fee (=tax), the highest in South Carolina.
This tax increase will start in about six months and last 84 long months, raising $2.8 million in new taxes.
This will negatively impact Marine Corps Air Station, Beaufort Memorial Hospital, City Hall, County Government complex, every school, every church, every business and every residential customer in Beaufort! Beaufort Memorial Hospital will pay an additional $135,000-$150,000 for this new tax, and must generate an additional $900,000 to offset it.
But this new tax was not necessary. When I was mayor, Beaufort joined with SCE&G in a new program, where we would share costs equally on “special projects.”
If this program had been used, SCE&G would have contributed $985,000 more than Beaufort will get under its “tax the citizens” approach.
We must avoid wasteful spending and poor decisions like paying over $2 million to acquire a failed commerce park that hasn’t earned a penny. Common sense is trading an unsuccessful commercial venture for more community-based police.
Or, paying almost $2 million of your tax dollars to buy a flawed Master Plan and new zoning. So what was so terribly broken in Beaufort that council spent so many of your tax dollars to fix? The simple, common sense answer is that there was no problem to fix.
Beaufort’s current zoning is perfectly adequate to preserve our long-standing residential neighborhoods and the Historic District. We should not discard our current codes that have served so well for over half a century and replace them “lock, stock and barrel” with a flawed “experiment” that could make neighborhoods such as Mossy Oaks, 100 Pines, The Old Commons and others into something we won’t recognize?
Also included in this super-expensive “master” plan is a proposal to give away part of the Waterfront Park to private developers to create a monstrosity called River Place, a private development that included a hotel, condominiums, restaurants, and retail businesses — a virtual private community deep in the heart and soul of Beaufort.
This ill-conceived idea was absolutely the worst public policy imaginable: gift the inheritance of all our citizens to private concerns for an uncertain and questionable venture of speculative value.
I am proud to have been among the leaders of our citizens’ courageous battle to stop this outrage.
I pledge never to agree to give away or sell one inch of Beaufort’s patrimony. It is the citizens’ park, then, now and forever.
Extravagant spending by council must stop and I pledge to oppose foolish waste of your precious taxes. I know how to do these things.
As your mayor, I demonstrated I can make significant contributions to governance by a record of effective leadership, sound judgment and good old Southern common sense.