BUT TAX DOLLARS STILL FLOWING
The port of Georgetown, South Carolina has seen its traffic almost completely evaporate in the span of one year – despite taxpayers continuing to subsidize this obsolete government-run facility.
According to data from the S.C. Ports Authority (SCPA), the facility moved 249,500 tons of cargo during fiscal year 2016. During the fiscal year that ended on June 30, though, it moved only 7,400 tons.
That’s an unbelievable 97 percent decline in traffic.
Georgetown handles “loose” cargo that isn’t shipped via the large twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) containers moving through the port of Charleston in record numbers.
A decade ago, such cargo accounted for less than ten percent of all worldwide maritime shipping – and that number has been slipping ever since. In other words, investing more tax money into this facility is ludicrous.
Does this situation sound familiar to South Carolina taxpayers? It should …
Back in 2004, then-S.C. governor Mark Sanford successfully pressured state lawmakers to get rid of the money-losing Port of Port Royal – which also specialized in handling non-containerized cargo. Astoundingly, this sale is only just being completed this year.
Despite its lack of viability moving forward, politicians like congressman Tom Rice continue to push for federal funding for the port of Georgetown. Rice and others want to spend $33 million to dredge Georgetown harbor – which was previously dredged back in 2004.
Rice has secured millions of dollars in federal money for dredging Georgetown’s port from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), while voters in Georgetown County approved a $28 million sales tax hike in 2014 – with $16 million of the proceeds of the new levy earmarked for dredging.
No amount of taxpayer money is going to make Georgetown’s port viable again. And as hard as it may be for them to confront this reality, local politicians need to do so sooner rather than later and beginning planning for the transitioning of this facility to a free market purpose.
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