Ronald Reagan once said “there are simple answers, they are just not easy answers.”
Have you ever wondered why in troubled economic times some counties don’t suffer as much as others. We have a wonderful county with great people that want to see their children and grandchildren find jobs and have a good quality of life.
My signs say: More jobs, lower property taxes, more restaurants. Some ask how? We must recognize the financial impact business and industrial growth have, and that we could literally cut our property tax in half by attracting, rather than repelling, business. Business can carry the majority of the tax load. Examples: Georgia Power and Effingham County Power pay approximately $6 million per year in local option tax and approximately $5 million in real property tax. Lowes pays approximately $100,000 in property tax and approximately $500,000 in local option taxes, and Walmart is more. EFACEC is projected to have a $40 million net value to our county over a 20-year period.
Our county tax burden has been on the residential community for too long. I just had a church, doctor and store owner tell me how difficult it was to build here. We have borrowed the playbook from the federal government and have grown our local government requirements and fees. We have some of the highest fees in the state (2009 national impact fee survey).
Locally, we require building to a higher wind code than is necessary (same as Tybee Island.) This is one example of when someone prices building here, they opt elsewhere. The state has a tier system offering benefits to companies for coming to an area. Effingham County is in the lowest position on that tier. I will work to change that. We must work together. We have a reputation of being difficult. The county has had pending lawsuits with the cities, IDA, developers and “We the taxpayers” a group that represents property owners in Effingham. The county has been fighting with the cities over service delivery areas for a decade. This is prohibiting our county from thriving. We needed water and sewer, but not in every direction at once. We should have strategically run a couple of main lines where we wanted industry and growth, and then expanded as did the revenue. The company that provided the impact fee study stated on its Web site “the electorate may think that impact fees will pay for all new capital facilities, therefore negating the need for higher taxes. They will not negate the need for higher taxes, due to operating costs.” This is not what we were told.
I’ve studied our comprehensive plan, DOT study, impact fee study and examples of what other counties have done to decrease cost and attract business. I am ready to help be part of a team that builds a community with jobs and a high quality of life that can sustain our families for generations to come. Just like one strand in a rope, alone we are weak, but working together we can be strong.