The Price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance
Let James Islanders decide
Recently, much has been said by the two factions, pro and con, about the proposed Town of James Island. The City of Charleston wants to annex James Island and proponents of the new Town of James Island rely on the anti-Joe faction, rather than stating simplly what the costs would be. Now there is a third group who say leave it at the status quo, a naive and silly proposal. It's all about economics, folks.
For the City, James Island is a great deal. It doesn't have to spend any money or give any services, but it does get to bond a large amount of money for each and every property annexed. The sum total? James Islanders get to pay for peninsular Charleston initiatives, which includes the bonds for the Aquarium and drainage for downtown.
For the Town of James Island, the money is simple. With around 26,000 people, right now the Local Option Sales Tax that we pay goes directly to the County and other municipalities. Like everyone else, when we look upon our telephone bill, or cable bill, or any other bill, there is a portion for taxes and fees. Guess what? Those taxes and fees go directly again to the County government and other municipalities. The taxes and fees are what the previous two towns of James Island were run on. The Local Option Sales Tax had to be banked because of court rulings about spending until the City was able to dissolve both towns. Then the money was split up between the County and other muncipalites to the tune of $6 million in total.
There is concern because many James Islanders would prefer to have the town, but not the previous Mayor. For the folks with the naive position that we can stay the same as we are, this is a challenge. If the Town is voted back in, pick a good candidate or two and run for mayor or council. And this is the rub: we are only as good as the candidates for office are, but it will be a James Island decision on who wins. Who is willing to put their sandals to the asphalt and get out the vote to win? It's nice to have press conferences, but another problem to pay up and get your message out.
You can see that I have assumed that a new Town of James Island will rise from the ashes. Once again, we will have the right to choose our government officials. The one thing the City will not tell you is if, in an Alice in Wonderland world, everyone on James Island chooses to annex to the City, it will be the year 2012 before we have any more representation on city Council. The next census is 2010, and it takes two years for the results to be in. By that time, under City law and rules, there will be no James Island. We will be a bedroom community with more trees cut down by developers and our way of life gone.
There is no choice: we must have our own town. This law will stand up, and mainly because it's being used by two other communities to incorporate. It is not a James Island-specific law, but a state-wide law. We have the right to choose our own destiny. We must have a good choice of candidates to govern us. The whole question is simple. It is time to vote, time to run for office, and time to let James Islanders choose.