October 2020

A Note from our Mayors

Author: John McCann, Lisa Sulka | Photographer: Krisztian Lonyai

A Note from Mayor McCann
Your Taxes Already Pay for Law Enforcement, So Why the Extra Fee?

As mayor, I want to bring you up to date about an ongoing situation between Beaufort County and the Town of Hilton Head Island regarding law enforcement services that you, our citizens, pay for as part of your annual property tax bills. It is a situation that we have been working on for quite some time to resolve and will continue to do so until we reach the right solution for you. Town Council recently voted to allow town staff to pursue action in the best interests of our residents to address this matter. Our goal is stop Beaufort County administration and leaders from implementing and collecting what they call a Beaufort County Law Enforcement Service Charge and Uniform User Fee. Thus, we have filed a lawsuit in the Beaufort County Court of Common Pleas, requesting that it issue an injunction prohibiting Beaufort County from adding this charge/fee to county property tax bills for Hilton Head Island.

We appreciate all the hard work that Beaufort County Sheriff P.J. Tanner and his deputies do to protect our community. Their scope of services includes responding to 911 calls, providing general patrol and beach patrol, handling security at some events, and taking care of other situations that require law enforcement intervention. We are not fighting against the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office. What we are doing is making sure our property owners don’t have to pay more fees on top what they are already paying for law enforcement.

We feel it is unfair to have Hilton Head Island property owners pay an additional fee, especially since we already pay for the services the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office provides with existing tax dollars. Of the taxes that Hilton Head property owners pay, over $14 million is used for the sheriff’s office operating budget. With the new fee, Beaufort County hopes to collect another $4.4 million in surplus revenue. In total, you, our property owners, may be paying more than $18 million annually for law enforcement.

Essentially, property owners on Hilton Head Island are being asked to pay twice for law enforcement. No other city or town in Beaufort County is being asked to shoulder this double taxation. This is unfair and unequitable.
Our property owners and residents value safety, but we should not have to pay more for services that are rightfully provided to us with taxes we already pay. While we pursue actions and find a reasonable solution to this situation, we’re asking that you, our residents and property owners, to join us to get this fee repealed. Call the Beaufort County administrator at (843) 255-2026 and Beaufort County Council at (843) 255-2180 to express your opposition.

On page 14 of this edition of CH2, you will find our advertorial for our “We Already Pay” informational campaign. This gives more insight into our argument against the county’s new fee. Property owners and residents can also find more information about this matter on our website at wealreadypay.org. 

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A Note from Lisa Sulka
Greetings from Bluffton!

The business of Bluffton continues unabated despite the pandemic. Here’s a look at Bluffton’s trajectory into the remainder of 2020.

Despite this year’s economic fluctuations, new building construction remains robust. Bluffton’s economic development arm, The Don Ryan Center for Innovation, is providing free membership to any Bluffton business for a year. This is a part of the town’s plan to help local businesses navigate this year’s unique challenges. For more details, please visit donryancenter.com.

The Don Ryan Center for Innovation recently moved into its permanent 3,000-square-foot facility in Buckwalter Place Commerce Park. Next door is the Buckwalter Place Park, with its inclusive playground equipment as well as a quiet, reflective corner where the Bluffton Veterans Memorial resides. The Martin Family Park, located on Boundary Street, is an open space, decorated with outdoor, wood Adirondack chairs. This is a perfect place to settle in with a good book or a to enjoy a future community movie night. The Wright Family Park and Calhoun Street Regional Dock, is a spectator property, offering residents a beautiful view and public access to the May River. Additionally, the town continues to install sanitary sewer, sidewalks and lighting to areas outside of planned communities that did not have the benefit of pre-planned infrastructure. These projects provide connectivity for our neighborhoods, businesses and public spaces as well as protection to our region’s natural resources.

Our 54-square-mile community has an estimated population of 24,000-27,000 residents. We are mostly a young, family-driven community, with the median age being 37. The median cost of a home in Bluffton is $266,200.

Together, our town council and staff members continue to strive to enhance our community’s high quality of life for all who live or work in or choose to visit Bluffton. 

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