To hear the mainstream media tell it, leaders in Camden, South Carolina are imposing modest increases on electricity and fuel costs for residents of the historic inland city. The increases – which went into effect on July 1, 2022 – are supposed to be limited to 10 percent for electricity and 5 percent for fuel.
City officials told Walker Lawson of WLTX TV-19 (CBS – Columbia, S.C.) these tax hikes – which are permanent – are necessary because fuel costs are on the rise and because the city has been “kinda” absorbing rate increases since 2014.
There was no referendum on the tax increase – city leaders just passed it. Which reminds me: As I have often stated, if local governments want to raise taxes (or, um, “fees”) it should always be with the expressed consent of the governed. I understand the virtue of representative democracy, but on taxes and spending issues – especially at the local level – the people should be allowed to have their say via a referendum.
While city leaders are telling one story, though, city tax bills provided to FITSNews by multiple local residents painted a vastly different (and more expensive) picture – one of rate hikes which dramatically exceeded the levels outlined in the mainstream media coverage.
“This is roughly a 50 percent increase all of a sudden,” one resident told me, pointing to a copy of their monthly bill. “As you can see this is over $100 month extra thrown on citizens at a time when prices are already skyrocketing.”
Indeed … inflation is out of control and citizens (especially South Carolinians) are struggling harder than ever to make ends meet.
Is this really the time to raise rates?
And assuming you think it is time … why aren’t city leaders showing their math?
“There is no way costs have gone up that much,” the resident told me.
In an effort to track its purported utility and fuel-related cost increases, our researcher Jenn Wood is preparing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request of city leaders. We want to know exactly what percentage of this bigger-than-advertised rate hike is actually going to offset rising fuel costs.
And exactly what percentage may be going …. elsewhere.
Stay tuned. City leaders could very well be telling the truth but unlike the mainstream media, we aren’t just going to take their word for it.
The seat of rural Kershaw County, Camden is oldest inland city in South Carolina – tracing its history back to the 1730s (a generation before the American Revolution). Home to an estimated 7,300 people, it is located along the Wateree River – approximately 32 miles northeast of the capital city of Columbia, S.C.
Camden is best known for hosting the annual Carolina Cup horse races each spring. The National Steeplechase Museum is also located in the town.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
(Via: Johanna Folks/ FITSNews)
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. And yes, he has LOTS of hats (including that St. Louis Cardinals’ lid pictured above).
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