The controversy over the Sea Pines municipal improvement district is a tempest in a teapot.
Some were knowledgeable of the proposal. Others were caught off guard and understandably upset. Others were unfortunately misinformed.
The Sea Pines' waterways need to be dredged. Disposal alternatives are limited and extremely expensive. The municipal improvement district would be a mechanism to collect contributions from all Sea Pines property owners as all property values would be adversely impacted by failure to dredge the waterways. The Sea Pines officials requesting the district recognize that the impact varies with proximity to the waterways and are considering a "tiered" approach based on relative benefit.
Our elected officials, responding to the request, initiated the enabling legislation insisting that the municipal improvement district be subject to referenda. The controversy dies away as people recognize that the district is subject to a dredge-by-dredge vote.
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As a resident, I believe that Sea Pines property owners have a significant problem, namely no mechanism to tax themselves to make needed investments and maintain appropriate reserves. Attempts to revise the covenants have failed. The municipal improvement district controversy provides an opportunity to revisit the larger need for the property owners to control their own destiny.
I strongly recommend that Sea Pines officials go back to the drawing board to rethink the broader cash needs and funding alternatives. Elected officials, who have done their job properly, should table (but not scrap) the tax district proposal pending input from Sea Pines officials.
Hilton Head Island
Editor's note: Stu Rodman represents Sea Pines on Beaufort County Council and is a Harbour Town Yacht Basin boat-slip owner and board member.