City of Charleston argues 4th James Island incorporation would bring a tax burden

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Supporters of the fourth Town of James Island are sharing the numbers -- population numbers of South Carolina municipalities near the same size as James Island.

Among those similar municipalities are Bluffton, Irmo, Forest Acres and Moncks Corner. They range in population from 7,885 to 13,752.

But officials with the City of Charleston say those living in James Island and supporting the town's fourth attempt should be aware of other numbers -- tax dollars required to manage the town with little commercial or industrial development.

"It's important for the residents on James Island to know that it's completely unrealistic to expect a new town can be formed and not have a tax bill, not to mention a really substantial one," said Charleston Mayor Joe Riley.

According to officials with the City of Charleston, residents of James Island would likely cease to receive tax refunds and will instead see a tax bill.

"The anticipated population of the fourth Town of James Island town is around 11,500. Even if in the short term the town will not fund the public safety of its citizens, the math still demonstrates the true cost of running the town will be substantial, and in a jurisdiction without a single grocery store, department store, hotel or major industrial operation to help shoulder the tax burden," City of Charleston officials said in a press release issued Tuesday.

City of Charleston officials argue that other municipalities in the county provide their own police protection. It's something the Town of James Island, they say, would not be able to afford.

"A number of towns around the same size, every one of those towns pays for a police department," Riley said. "The town of James Island is asserting they'll never have to pay for a police department but that is completely unrealistic.{} They'll either have to have a police department and pay for it, or pay for the services they are receiving."

Riley said it costs Charleston county $1.9 million a year to provide police services alone to James Island. That's about $650 per household.

Smaller communities like Folly Beach, Isle of Palms, and Sullivan's Island all pay their own way when it comes to law enforcement.