Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Mileage Cap Proposal

Today's topic, set for special order, is S. 969. This is a mileage cap proposal. It basically does three things:
1>adds language to the constitution defining the reasons for a potential tax increase and requiring counties to enumerate them on the ballot. They include: a deficiency in the preceding year, any catastrophic event outside the control of the governing body, or compliance with a court order or decree.
2>limits the ability of school districts to increase mileage to the equivalent of the most recent three-year rolling average of personal income growth as determined by the US Department of Commerce.
3>limits all other jurisdiction to the above formula unless an ordinance passed by the governing body is approved by the voters at a general election.
Unfortunately, current and future bonded indebtedness, for all jurisdictions, is excluded from these caps. This raises two obvious questions. First, why would we limit mileage increases for operations but not buildings? Shouldn't voters have the right to decide if their local government should build buildings? Second, if we leave capital bonds unregulated, does this perpetuate the possibility of every county in South Carolina auditing the Greenville Plan, whereby those taxpayers assumed over $1 billion in bonded debt without even as much as a chance to vote on it? There are amendments addressing these. Will they pass?
This is a debate for taxpayers to watch. Let me know what you think.