Most folks think this new Ordinance dictates that the FILOT revenue derived from Mount Holly will, automatically, be included in the Multi-County Parks "pot" to be distributed among the taxing entities according to millage. Do you really think so?
As of December 2011, the Mount Holly FILOT funds only had the 1% for Williamsburg and the 5% for Economic Development taken out before Mr. Davis put it where ever, sometimes toward the Fund Balance and sometimes directly into the General Fund. Neither the School System nor any other taxing entity got one thin dime. These funds amounted to over $3 MILLION a year.
But, Mr. Davis's conscience is clear. He rationalizes, "We have not taken a dime from the school district. Google came and bought in Mount Holly and that was a great thing for us. (shouldn't "us" include the School System?) If we hadn't had Mount Holly, we wouldn't have Google, and the money wouldn't have been there in the first place, so they can't say that they lost any money."
As we actively restrain ourselves from shouting, "BS" allow us to provide a few facts. First of all, not only did Mr. Davis NOT have anything to do with building Mount Holly, he didn't have one thing to do with bringing Google to Berkeley County. All of these efforts and the resulting successes were, solely, due to the former Supervisor, Jim Rozier and his right-hand-man, John Scarborough. The FILOT from Mount Holly was originally earmarked to pay back money Santee Cooper loaned to the County to construct Mount Holly Park. Upon the repayment of this debt, this FILOT revenue was supposed to go into the Multi-County Parks "pot" to be distributed to the taxing entities according to millage. This action would have resulted in the School System getting their fair share of the Mount Holly FILOT. Mr. Davis changed all this when he instituted his infamous money shell game by stealing W&S's $10 MILLION and paying off the remaining $4.7 MILLION debt to Santee Cooper. (By the way, can anyone tell you where the remainder of the $10 MILLION went after Mr. Davis paid the Cypress Garden's (which BC owns)debt to BC government?) We thought not. Secondly, if we used Mr. Davis' logic(?), wouldn't his statement, therefore, apply to all the FILOT funds derived from all the businesses in the Multi-County Parks?
Getting back to the new Ordinance, if the P&C is correct about the new distribution formula, the School System should be into fits. According to the newspaper account:
- 1% will continue to go to Williamsburg,
- 5% will continue to go to Economic Development,
- an additional $500,000 will be deducted (off the top)for the repayment of the $10 MILLION theft from W&S's Fund Balance, (hasn't that been coming out of Davis' share of the Google money?) and
- an additional $2 MILLION will be deducted (off the top)for the Sheep Island Project.
- The remaining money will be distributed in the same percentages as county taxes, meaning the schools will get about 80%, or about $500,000 per year.
If this 5th item is correct, we are totally confused. Half a Million dollars to the schools? As of last December, they were getting almost $6 MILLION from the Multi-County Parks FILOT. Does item 5 refer to the Mount Holly FILOT money? That can't be right either. The Mount Holly FILOT money as of last December was $3 MILLION and 80% of that is certainly more than $500,000.
If you don't add in the Mount Holly FILOT funds to the Multi-County Parks, the School System's share will, automatically, be much smaller due to the additional deductions BUT that's the rub. Dan Davis has assured everyone that he intends to, now, include the Mount Holly FILOT funds in the Multi-County Parks "pot". (AND, we all know we can always take the Supervisor at his word.) Since it is a verifiable fact that the Mount Holly FILOT funds have been illegally excluded from the Multi-County Parks "pot" for several years, is anyone naive enough to think the Supervisor will pass up the chance to not only keep the Mount Holly FILOT but take the $2.5 MILLION from the Multi-County Parks as authorized by this new Ordinance? Grow up.
We must add that the behavior of the School System during this debacle cannot be ignored or justified. The silence coming from that sector was deafening. Had the School System expended half the energy toward defending this source of income that it did toward getting the Supervisor elected to his first term, the results could have been more to their favor. But fear not, according to the word around town, the School System has a Plan B. They are going to put a $250 MILLION School Bond Referendum on the ballot this November. This maneuver should raise a red flag to the taxpayers. The law forbids the Schools acquiring debt above a certain percentage of assets. Since this $250 MILLION would put them above that level, their only avenue for acquiring more debt is through a positive action of the BC voters.
GE&P is well aware that there is a difference between Operational Funds and Building Funds BUT the School System cannot believe the taxpayers will happily approve this Bond Issue after the officials of the School System, both elected and appointed, stood by silently as the Supervisor raided one of their main sources of operating revenue. Had they publicly raised a stink and solicited the support of the voters, they could have made it political suicide for the Supervisor to not only continue to take the Mount Holly money but to take even more from their share of the Multi-County Parks FILOT revenue. But, it's too late now, Boys. Don't expect the taxpayers to dig any deeper into our pockets. There's nothing left to shell out.