1) Because of their oath of office …
Article III. SECTION 26. Oath of office.
Members of the General Assembly, and all officers, before they enter upon the duties of their respective offices, and all members of the bar, before they enter upon the practice of their profession, shall take and subscribe the following oath: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I am duly qualified, according to the Constitution of this State, to exercise the duties of the office to which I have been elected, (or appointed), and that I will, to the best of my ability, discharge the duties thereof, and preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of this State and of the United States. So help me God."
(1954 (48) 1852; 1955 (49) 23.)Take note: "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of this State and of the United States. So help me God."
It appears the school board constantly tries to find statutory loop holes or technicality in our law. This does not match up to "preserving or protecting" our State Constitution.
2) By not allowing the State of South Carolina to perform THEIR constitutional duty of providing for the maintenance and building of Pickens County Schools …
Article XI SECTION 3.
System of free public schools and other public institutions of learning.
The General Assembly shall provide for the maintenance and support of a system of free public schools open to all children in the State and shall establish, organize and support such other public institutions of learning, as may be desirable.
(1972 (57) 3193; 1973 (58) 44.)This unequivocally states that it is the responsibility of the State Of South Carolina to PROVIDE ALL MONIES for every school, in every aspect, in every school district in the State of South Carolina. It is the responsibility of the State of South Carolina to provide for the education. If the State DOES NOT provide the appropriate maintenance then our schools will lose accreditation.
26682 - Berkeley County School District v. SCDORReplyDelete
JUSTICE KITTREDGE: I respectfully dissent. I vote to deny tier three reimbursements to Plaintiffs. I would hold that section 12-37-220(B)(47)(a) permits school districts, through proper taxing authorities, to tax owner-occupied residential property to make payments on capital construction projects financed by lease/installment-purchase agreements. S.C. Code Ann. § 12-37-220(B)(47)(a) (Supp. 2008).
There are 85 school districts in South Carolina. Six of those school districts (Plaintiffs) filed this action, which the Court accepted in its original jurisdiction. To avoid the constitutional limit on general obligation debt, some school districts construct capital improvements through financing mechanisms generally referred to as lease-purchase or installment-purchase agreements. A key feature of these financing mechanisms is the ability of the school districts to bypass the voters. Payments made under the lease/installment-purchase are sometimes characterized as “rent,” but this characterization is a misnomer, for each payment results in the school district acquiring an ownership interest in the facilities, with full ownership vesting upon the final payment.
The question before the Court concerns the proper method for acquiring tax dollars to pay for these capital financing arrangements. In 2006, the Legislature precluded school districts from entering into such financing arrangements if they would cause the school district to exceed its constitutional debt limit if considered general obligation debt. Also in 2006, the Legislature increased the tax exemption for owner-occupied residential property to “one hundred percent of the fair market value” of the property and provided the property “is exempt from all property taxes imposed for school operating purposes but not including millage imposed for the repayment of general obligation debt.” S.C. Code Ann. § 12-37-220(B)(47)(a) (Supp. 2008) (emphasis added).
To offset this loss of tax revenue for school operating expenses, the Legislature imposed a one percent sales tax to replace the property tax formerly levied on owner-occupied residential property. S.C. Code Ann. §§ 12-36-1110-1120 (Supp. 2008). The money collected pursuant to the one percent sales tax increase is placed in the Homestead Exemption Fund and distributed to the school districts pursuant to statutory formula. S.C. Code Ann. § 12-36-1120 (Supp. 2008); S.C. Code Ann. § 11-11-156 (Supp. 2008).
One of the methods of distribution from the Homestead Exemption Fund is known as “tier three.” Reimbursement from tier three “consists of an amount equal dollar for dollar to the revenue that would be collected by the district from property tax for school operating purposes imposed by the district on owner-occupied residential property for that fiscal year as if no reimbursed exemptions applied.” S.C. Code Ann. § 11-11-156(A)(1) (Supp. 2008).
Plaintiffs seek tier three reimbursement for payments made pursuant to their respective lease/installment-purchase agreements. Plaintiffs contend that these payments are included in the school operating expense exemption, and as a result, owner-occupied residential property may not be taxed for this purpose. Hence, Plaintiffs assert their entitlement to tier three reimbursements from the Homestead Exemption Fund.
The South Carolina Department of Revenue rejected tier three reimbursements and construed the statutory scheme as excluding lease/installment-purchase agreements from the “school operating purposes” exemption. The Department of Revenue issued Property Opinion #2008-03 setting forth its construction of the statutory scheme. I include that opinion in its entirety.