There is no one remedy for an ailing Dorchester County as it struggles to try to find a cure for its rapidly growing population and the expected continued influx in the future, a long-awaited study says.
The results of the Fiscal Impact Analysis performed by the Strom Thurmond Institute at Clemson University details the upsides and pitfalls to continued growth amidst ongoing attempts by government officials to better manage growth.
ìWhen a change in the rate of development has this sort of varied fiscal impact on different local governments within the community, it seems unlikely that limiting development will provide a solution that is acceptable to the community as a whole,î said the studyís findings performed by William Molnar and Charles Taylor.
Jurisdictions such as Dorchester School Districts Two and Four and Dorchester County will bear additional burdens under high growth scenarios.
ìIn our analysis we find that more rapid development than contemplated in our base scenario leads to less desirable fiscal outcomes for Dorchester County and both school districts because of increased demands for capital infrastructure, such as roads and school buildings,î says the studyís findings.
But, the countyís enterprise water and sewer department needs growth along with the Town of Summerville if it wants to keep up.
ìOn the other hand, the Town of Summerville and Dorchester Countyís water and sewer utility have made investments or other commitments based on the assumption that a certain level of growth is expected to occur over the next several years,î the study continues.
Summerville has commitments to staff fire stations to continue its level of services. The countyís water and sewer enterprise funds have two debts from 2003 and 2007 still to pay off. Any reduction in fees collected from these funds will have to be made up with rate hikes.
The results study, detailed in a 150-page document obtained by The Journal Scene, will be explained and questioned during a meeting at 3 p.m. Friday in County Council Chambers in Summerville.
Both school districts, the county and the town contributed towards the $42,000 for the study. North Charleston opted not to be included.
The study presents two scenarios: one that has a moderate growth rate based upon the exploding years the county has recently seen and another where the growth rate is rather mild.
The study says jurisdictions should consider funding alternatives.
ìA more promising approach, in our opinion, is for local governments to develop sources of revenue that are more responsive to growth and that allow new residents ñ who create the demand for additional public infrastructure and services ñ to bear more of the financial burden of providing them,î the study says.
Both Summerville and Dorchester County have already increased taxes recently. Summerville raised taxes this year ññalthough the effect wonít be on the tax bill until next year ññ to pay for higher police salaries, new firefighters and a Town Hall annex building.
Dorchester County raised taxes last year to fund a capital improvements program aimed at building new fire and EMS stations and other service related infrastructure.
Contact Ryan Castle at 873-9424 ext. 216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.