Last week's meeting was not well attended, but we had a visitor, Jeffrey West. West is a reporter from the Times Examiner. Mr. West's web site is www.jeffwest.com. He has some interesting content for you to study if you are so inclined.
Our discussion centered on the actions of our County Council, School board, and SC State government actions. The County Council is playing with fire. They are trying to say that a property owner has given "implicit approval" to the County government for the usage (by legal right of way) of road frontage and other places for the installation of water, sewer, roads, electrical service, cable, etc. The fifth amendment prescribes "nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation." There is no "implicit approval" mentioned in the fifth amendment. We are one government take over from going entirely communist. We must stand and fight right here. If you allow this, there won't be any piece of private property the government cannot seize at their will.
Lets take a look at what has happened already this year. The County Council has taken $45 million dollars of our money by over-collection (OVER THE YEARS). I have recently recalculated this figure to millions more each year because of over-collection on bonds, as well as operating expenses. The School Board and municipalities are over-collecting in the same way. Just to refresh your minds on how this is done, let's say the School Board has $350 million in bonded debt. They say only 95% will be collectible (which is a false assumption because all taxes are collectible or the property is sold). They have $350 million dollars in revenue bonds and general obligation bonds to pay off, so they collect an extra 5% (100%-95%=5% or $16 million the first year). Even at 98% collectible it is $7 million extra each year). If they are over-collecting on operating expenses, the School Board is over-collecting on bonds too. This whole thing is a fiasco and shows how our government has degenerated.
The attitude of our School Board and County Council is to see how they can get around the Constitution, not how they can "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution" as their oath of office and their promises during their election sre clearly stated. They have approved money for Tri-County Tech which is against the SC Constitution Article 11 Section 3. Only 18% of the students at Tri-County are from Pickens and Pickens County is already doing Tri County Tech's original mission and spending 10's of millions in doing it. In my opinion Pickens County should not have to Constitutionally given anything to Tech.
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.
The above quoted section of the SC Constitution has no other meaning than, the STATE is responsible for education. This isn't a foreign concept. Other states, far ahead of South Carolina in the rankings, provide teacher pay and student funding at the state level and do so because their state constitution mandates it.
The County Attorney has not adequately answered our question on what happens to the 20% of protested taxes when it goes into the delinquent tax account rather than a protested account. How does this money get back into the calculation to make sure that the County does not gain from reassessment? In general, our County and School Board accounting procedures are terrible. Most of the collected taxes go into a general fund that does not allow the County treasurer to separate the funds by Constitutional mandate. For instance, those funds that are over-collected should be in a separate account so that an accurate determination can be made for them.
One last subject that was discussed last night was our program for home schoolers.We will be discussing more details on this program as time progresses.