We must Secede...From South Carolina!!!!
Altman proposes seceding from South Carolina to cure property tax ills
BY JOHN FRANK
Of The Post and Courier Staff
COLUMBIA--It seems local governments perpetually struggle with the state for more authority.
The most recent example came this week when the state Supreme Court struck down a Charleston County ordinance placing caps on property assessment increases for tax purposes.
But fret no more. State Rep. John Graham Altman said he's found the ultimate solution for counties: secede from the state.
That's right. Charleston County should secede from the state of South Carolina, he argues.
The Charleston Republican introduced a constitutional amendment Wednesday that would let the county break away from the state for the purposes of tax valuation. The power to assess property taxes would be given to the county council instead.
What was he thinking? Altman said after he learned of the court's decision, he set about to find a solution to the age-old problem.
"I was thinking all night of how to get us around the constitution," Altman said. "So I decided to take us out of the constitution."
It grew out of frustration, he said.
"Property tax is a monster that is devouring our Charleston community," Altman said. "We pass bill after bill to try and get property tax relief. But we can't pass a statewide bill because some people don't want tax relief."
Some lawmakers are taking the proposal seriously; others just chuckle. Altman is known in the Legislature for his quirky legislation. Two years ago, he proposed a "Choose Death" license plate tag to make a point about abortion.
Altman said other lawmakers support the legislation, but most seemed skeptical when asked.
"Do you think he is taking this seriously?" asked Rep. Tracy Edge, a North Myrtle Beach Republican. "He told me (about it) with a straight face."
Majority Leader Jim Merrill didn't seem to have reservations though.
"Obviously, my loyalties are to the Lowcountry," the Daniel Island Republican said. "I always support Mr. Altman."
Whether it is merely a statement or not, lawmakers agreed it called attention to an important issue. A House panel is currently considering a variety of property tax break proposals.
"I agree with John Graham Altman in that we feel like we are caught in a struggle between the courts and local governments," Edge said. "What it boils down to is counties are using assessments as a tool to raise taxes."
Thanks for everything Johnny White Guy.