Last week at our council meeting I asked the council members to join me in reaffirming their commitment to the Town of Chapin through a resolution that outlined nine areas where we would all work together for the benefit of our residents and businesses. Surprisingly, Councilman Gregg White was the only one willing to join me in signing this resolution. What was so troubling, you might ask, is why our other three council members could not and would not support this effort? Once again, the Resolution simply asked council members to add their signatures to the Resolution affirming their commitment to this community.
- commit to working with Town Hall employees to get a better understanding of their jobs and responsibilities;
- to actively propose and set policy for the town;
- to be involved in community events and promoting the positive aspects of the Chapin community;
- to communicate with other council members and
me the Mayor on defined goals and objectives for the town;
- to refuse in engaging in negative rumors;
- to propose and implement ideas that will improve and enhance the quality of life for Chapin residents and businesses;
- to put the best interest of the town first as opposed to one’s personal agenda;
- to be transparent on all issues;
- and to follow proper procedures and protocol as it relates to all council meetings.
You can see the resolution in its entirety on my Facebook page and the town’s website . I wonder how you as citizens and business owners feel about this matter, and I welcome your feedback. Feel free post your comment on my Facebook page (Facebook.com/MayorSkipWilson), call me (394-6957) or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In my Mayor’s comments, I addressed our concerns over the two proposed Business License bills (H3650 and H3651) that I mentioned last week. In its current form, the legislation would grant exemptions to certain business types forcing city officials to choose between significantly increasing business license rates for all other businesses or/and reducing city services. It would strip the authority of cities and towns to manage business licensing, and it would move the insurance and telecommunication collection programs from the Municipal Association, which is governed by city officials, to a state agency, namely the Secretary of State office. These bills pick winners and losers by extending tax exemptions to some businesses thereby creating inequities among all businesses.
There was an excellent article in last week’s (Feb. 20) The State newspaper that went into more detail about how large national firms like Walmart or an Olive Garden would get a reduced rate and thus providing a competitive and tax advantage over small businesses. In a town like Chapin where most of our businesses are small mom-and-pop businesses, the inequity of rates is unfair and disgraceful.
Unfortunately during both the subcommittee and committee debate, House Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee Chairman Rep. Bill Sandifer (R – Seneca) stated that these bills are revenue neutral to cities because city officials can just raise rates to make up for the shortfall. I am pretty sure that if we surveyed our Chapin small businesses, very few would be willing to pay a higher share to cover the reductions that the Walmarts and national chains have brokered through their alliances with the State Chamber of Commerce.
As you know, business licenses account for about 42% of our general fund revenues. Based on the specifics of this bill, if enacted as currently written, we would lose almost $400,000 in revenue. Given the fact that the General Assembly has not fully funded the local government fund in nearly 8 years, and we have the third lowest property tax millage rate in Lexington County, the impact of this legislation could be devastating and detrimental to our town operations and require a significant cut back of personnel and town services.
We have reached out to the Chapin Chamber on this matter to ask for their support, but I would encourage all business owners and residents to contact our legislative delegation – Rep. Chip Huggins and Sen. Ronnie Cromer to voice your disapproval of this bill and ask them to slow the progress of this legislation to allow for further dialogue and compromise. This is critical that the Town Council work together to fight this legislation for the benefit of our town.
Last month there was an interesting article (Jan. 21) in The State newspaper on the importance of biking and walking as viable alternative transportation modes, and that is something we have been working on in Chapin to expand our sidewalk network and explore the addition of bike lanes and trails. Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin is putting together a Bike and Walk Summit in May that I plan on attending. Being a bike and pedestrian friendly community is something we aspire to provide our residents. It reduces traffic congestion and promotes a healthy lifestyle. I look forward to learning more from that summit and seeing what ideas we can implement in Chapin.
As promised, Erin Long Bergeson, Chapin’s Lexington County Council representative, myself and other Chapin Town Hall staff met with Lexington County public safety officials to address the EMS services in the Chapin Community. I’m happy to report that March 30 has been set as the date for a Public Safety Forum in Chapin (Town Hall) where they will address your concerns we discussed a few weeks ago about emergency medical services (EMS) response. We look forward to learning about the new technologies being employed to address EMS demands and having an open discussion about these matters and the impact on our community. Mark your calendars and plan to join us!