Consideration prior to Third Reading of Bill No. 12-02, an ordinance providing for the allocation of revenues generated by the Berkeley/Williamsburg Joint Industrial and Business Park; repealing ordinance No. 96-1-2, as amended, in its entirety; and repealing all resolutions pertaining to the allocation of revenues generated by the Joint Industrial and Business Park in its entirety.
This Ordinance is scheduled to be passed by County Council this coming Monday night. The fix is in. Our four Conservative Councilmen will vote against it and Supervisor Davis' Democrats will vote for it. This will result in a 4/4 tie vote. Then, Supervisor Davis will cast the tie-breaker and the new Ordinance will be Law. Even though GE&P let the cat out of the bag on this issue on Feb. 23, we will bet you haven't heard a lot about it since then. Well, that is about to change. There are a few details surrounding this Ordinance that the public needs to know.
This Ordinance will dictate exactly how the FILOT revenue is divided between the County and the School District. A few years ago, Supervisor Davis made one small (illegal) change to the distribution formula which resulted in the School District losing almost $8 Million in revenue to date. This new Ordinance will make the School District's financial situation even worse.
Since this new Ordinance was first introduced, several interested citizens have made requests for a copy of the text of the Bill so they could learn the specifics and read the exact wording. Not only have the requests of these citizens gone unanswered, at least four (4) members of County Council have not been given the opportunity to read the Bill. (Would you like to take a wild guess as to which four Councilmen we are referring?)
The only information provided to these four Councilmen and the public is the outline reported by GE&P on Feb. 23: 1% to Williamsburg County, 5% to Economic Development; small amount for repayment of bonds; $500,000 (off the top) for the repayment of the $10 Million theft from Water & Sewer; $2.5 Million (off the top) for the Sheep Island Project; and, then, a yet to be determined division formula of the remainder between the County and the School District.
Today is Friday, April 20, 2012. This Ordinance is on the agenda for final passage (by the Supervisor's Coalition, of course) on Monday, April 23, 2012. The public, GE&P, AND four (4) members of Berkeley County Council have NO earthly idea as to the wording of the Ordinance, the exact formula for the division of the FILOT revenues, or which other Ordinances and Resolutions are to be repealed by this document.
The Supervisor has taken great joy in reporting that the School Superintendent supports this Ordinance. Let us allow our imaginations to run wild here for just a moment. We realize that this would be purely speculative but could a conversation have taken place (on that long ride to Columbia) that went something like this?:
Supervisor: "You have heard about my little voting coalition on County Council?"
Superintendent: "Yes, I have."
Supervisor: "You do know I have the power to get anything I want passed?"
Superintendent: "Yes, I do."
Supervisor: "You do know that if you raise a stink about this distribution formula, I can write another one that will take ALL the FILOT?"
Superintendent: "Yes, I do."
Supervisor: "I am so happy to hear that you support my efforts."
Superintendent: (Having been politically ravished) "Thank you, Sir."
Another interesting element of this story that has received little to no advertisement is the fact that a Bill has been passed by the State House and is now in Committee in the Senate that would dictate the division of the County FILOTs. This Bill would prevent counties from stealing funding from the School Systems.
Here we have a proposed new County Law that will have a financial impact on every taxing entity and every taxpayer and none of us have a clue as to what is in it. Did Nancy Pelosi take over our County Government when we weren't looking?
Everyone needs to be aware of one other small fact; Councilman Call is in full support of this effort by the Supervisor. He has literally bragged about this during several of his recent speeches.
The voters of District 3 need to know that Mr. Call's involvement in Supervisor Davis's coalition is an intricate component to its success. Without Mr. Call's vote, the support of the other Democrats on County Council will be meaningless. When Mr. Call's vote is replaced with a fifth Conservative vote, Supervisor Davis will be powerless to inflict these sorts of schemes on the taxpayers.
Everyone has heard that 2012 is the most important national election cycle in our lifetimes. GE&P agrees. But, the voters of Berkeley County need to realize that the same facts apply to our County elections this year. If the voters don't wake up and dismantle Supervisor Davis' Democrat Coalition on County Council, our County is heading straight for financial and ethical ruin. One only has to read our last post to find proof of the "ethical ruin" part.
GE&P encourages all taxpayers to come out Monday night and have your voices heard. (That is, if Supervisor Davis doesn't come up with a plan before that time to avoid public comment)
Last but certainly not least:
SUPPORT THE 5TH CONSERVATIVE VOTE ON COUNTY COUNCIL. VOTE FOR KEN GUNN IN THE REPUBLICAN PRIMARY ON TUESDAY, JUNE 12TH.