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Spartan

Over Taxed or just right?

Is Spartanburg (city) over-taxed?   7 members have voted

  1. 1. An article in the HJ says that the city has plenty of money in its coffers, in large part due to a tax increase last year (the first in over 20 years). Does the city have too much tax-payer money?

    • No
      7
    • Maybe
      0
    • Yes
      0

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11 posts in this topic

Article

"The city's revenues exceeded expenses by about $5.2 million and increased by 15 percent to about $48.1 million from the 2006 fiscal year. The increase was primarily due to a 4 percent, or $12.9 million, increase in property tax collections from the previous year, which reflects a 3 percent increase in the county's collection rate."

People often cite taxes as the reason they don't want to live in the city. Does the idea of city-living in Spartanburg appeal to you? By that I mean within the city limits, not necessarily downtown.

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It's great that they increased the property tax! I live in a 3BR/2BA home in a nice community and my taxes only went up by $28. Someone with 10 times the house as I've got can probably afford an extra $280. Someone with a tenth the house as I've got shouldn't miss $2.80 either. So I doubt that anyone could really feel the difference.

I know that property tax applies to more than just homes, but I thought I'd keep the math simple.

That being said, the tax increase was just about right. And perhaps could've been a smidge higher.

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You can certainly live in the county and enjoy what Spartanburg has downtown or within the city limits. I live in Hillbrook, but because the way the city lines are drawn, I am not in the city and love not having to pay all the extra taxes that people in Converse Heights, Fernwood, or any other neighborhood have to pay. The big thing is not having the pay the Spartanburg sewer taxes. That said, I am within 2-3 miles of the best things that the "SC" has to offer (Morgan Square, Mellow Mushroom, Wofford, etc). So I guess what I am saying is that you can live in the county and not pay city taxes and still enjoy what the town has to offer without fully paying for it.

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^Exactly, and in my opinion that is the problem. You still live in an "urban" environment. You require urban services like water, sewer, garbage, police, fire, etc. I very strongly believe that those services should be provided by an incorporated "CITY." Cities themselves are incorporated for the sole purpose of providing urban services as opposed to those who live in the country out from town and that don't need most of those services.

I also believe that people should pay for these services. If it looks like a city, and acts like a city, then it should be incorporated into the city.

In SC our annexation policies are holding our cities back. I think that the taxation rates are artificially high because the cities have to support a larger population than they have to tax from. Thats where the hospitality tax comes into play. Spartanburg is only 39,000 or so in population, yet it supports an urban area of over 140,000 in some shape or form. Not directly through the things I mentioned above, but through businesses, where a large number of people come into town to go to work, shop, play, dine, see entertainment, etc. This problem is compounded by the establishment of Special Purpose Districts by our state legislature, which are taxing districts that are created to provide urban services. They are a redundant and largely useless layer of bureaucracy in our state that is a direct result of our restrictive annexation laws that prevent cities from performing their main duties. The perception of the City of Spartanburg as an unnecessary taxing authority by many is created by the existence of SPDs to an extent.

Places that need to be annexed into Spartanburg IMO are neighborhoods like Hilltop, Saxon, Cleveland Park, Beaumont, Drayton, Westview, Hillbrook, Andrew's Farm, Ben Avon, all of Roebuck, all neighborhoods on Reidville Rd and Hwy 29, Arcadia, Hidden Hills, Fernwood-Glendalre Rd, etc. I'm sure there are many more If I thought about it. The SPD's to the north of town particularly grate me because those areas are most directly tied into the city, and they are outside of the city government's reach. These distressed urban neighborhoods are beyond the help of the private market (I mean, who in the world would want to live there unless they had to?). There are ways to help them that I think local government is better suited for, and more importantly, the County government shouldn't be responsible for.

Sorry for the long response, your post just made me think of several different things I had been meaning to rant about! :)

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Man Spartan, you want to tax anything that moves. People live outside the city or move outside the city for a reason. Basically they just want to get away from the city or be left alone. You start annexing all of us and you are going to have a riot on your hands. Believe me, I pay for my garbage through private garbage pick up and as a business, I'm sure they pay taxes to fill your precious coffers. I have city water and I pay for it. I have fire protection and I pay for that through county taxes. Its not my fault that I have septic service and don't have to pay the high sewer taxes that the city has. People living outside the city were there long before the "CITY" was and should not be penalized for being out there. We want to live in a rural setting for a reason.

If more tax breaks and incentives were given to create small businesses that would in turn create more tax money. That is just simple economics. It is not the county's fault that you don't have more things to tax. Did you know that if a Doctors office or practice is owned by Sptbg Regional that it can't be taxed because Regional is a no tax property? That's unbelievable! Whoever created that deal ought to be shot.

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I can understand those people that live outside the city and have their own well and septic tank not wanting to pay extra to be in the city limits. However, in an earlier post Sparkleman, you insinuated that you didn't move out of the city to "be alone" or "get away" from the city. You stated that you lived just outside the limits so you can enjoy all the city has to offer, including sewer and not share any of the burden for those amenities.

If that is the case, then you actually do make a great argument for annexation.

Just curious, when the water works ran the lines into Hillbrook a long time ago, wasn't a provision drafted that said the city could annex at a later time if desired? I'm not sure about this, but I thought I read it somewhere.

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^Yes, anyone with city sewer service (before the SSSD take-over) supposedly have that arrangement.

Man Spartan, you want to tax anything that moves. People live outside the city or move outside the city for a reason. Basically they just want to get away from the city or be left alone. You start annexing all of us and you are going to have a riot on your hands. Believe me, I pay for my garbage through private garbage pick up and as a business, I'm sure they pay taxes to fill your precious coffers. I have city water and I pay for it. I have fire protection and I pay for that through county taxes. Its not my fault that I have septic service and don't have to pay the high sewer taxes that the city has. People living outside the city were there long before the "CITY" was and should not be penalized for being out there. We want to live in a rural setting for a reason.

If more tax breaks and incentives were given to create small businesses that would in turn create more tax money. That is just simple economics. It is not the county's fault that you don't have more things to tax. Did you know that if a Doctors office or practice is owned by Sptbg Regional that it can't be taxed because Regional is a no tax property? That's unbelievable! Whoever created that deal ought to be shot.

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True Hub City, I didn't move out there for those reasons. In fact before I moved, I didn't even know that my house was outside the city. You could say it was a pleasant surprise. However, the majority of the folks that live outside the city do so for the reasons stated above. Spartanburg has put itself in a bad spot as far as taxing and annexation go in that too many entities do not pay taxes and will not ever pay taxes (schools, churches, hospitals, etc). As for neighborhoods, it would be hard to annex Hilltop and Cleveland Park and not annex say Boiling Springs. In the case of Hillbrook, about 15 years ago city officials offered annexation to those that were outside the city and wanted in. It was a simple yes/no vote and it was up to the homeowner, not the city or water system officials. Thats why one house can be outside the city and the one across the street from it is inside the city.

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I agree that Spartanburg has put itself in a bad spot. So have most of the other Upstate cities for that matter.

How does it make sense to annex Boiling Springs? Besides the obvious political ramifications, I can't see any reason for them to be included in Spartanburg at this point in time.

Hilltop and Cleveland Park, however, should be annexed just based on simple geographic proximity. Those areas are unquestionably urban (as opposed to urbanizing) neighborhoods. Spartanburg should not take up the entire county, but the core urban area should be part of the city, IMO.

Hillbrook, was just a year or two ago the subject of annexation again. The City was going to annex all of the properties that had the agreement based on the sewer service. We have a thread on Hillbrook and other annexations that the city wanted to do. I have no idea if those plans are still under way though.

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If Spartanburg wanted to increase its tax base by annexation, why in the world would you NOT want to include Boiling Springs? Its only the fastest growing part of Spartanburg with more and more affluent families moving out there every day into bigger and more expensive homes. Sure it makes sense to include Hilltop and Cleveland Park but the value of those homes vs those in Boiling Springs are not even in the same ballpark.

Earlier in this thread you spoke of annexing places like Westview and Roebuck. Why would you annex them and not Boiling Springs? They are basically the same distance from the city.

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Well if I had the magical annexation wand, then of course I would include Boiling Springs :) I would also include all of the wealthy Eastside neighborhoods that aren't annexed along with the western suburbs.

But being somewhat realistic, I think that annexing Westview would be a less challenging feat because its right next to the western city limits. In general, I think that the political environment would be more favorable if the city stayed south of 85. I should qualify this by noting that I'm not saying it would be favorable, just less unfavorable when compared to Boiling Springs. Boiling Springs has a more well formed identity and they have even tried to incorporate a few times.

Roebuck is indeed the same distance away. But its somewhat less developed, and it would make more sense for the city to annex and provide the infrastructure and necessary services to make it worth while. Boiling Springs is more well established, and I think it would be much harder to make the case for city services via Spartanburg rather than its own town at this point.

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