The petition effort for establishing Cane Bay as a Special Tax District has been terminated.
The reasons are:
First, I would like to thank everyone who took the time to sign the existing petition.
Our continued support of the construction of the Whitesville Fire District Jeffery Worsham Memorial Station at Cane Bay is necessary considering the bold action of the District Board of Directors in accepting the USDA loan without any assurance of additional revenue to service the loan and to obtain necessary equipment and apparatus for the station. Without additional revenue the loan can be serviced, but hiring and training additional firefighters/paramedics and equipping the station and acquiring new/upgraded apparatus will not be possible. In this case the station will be staffed part time with volunteer staff and aging existing apparatus and equipment.
The application of the additional revenue raised through the $100/year special fire fee for Cane Bay with be administered by a special board of directors (5-9 people) made up of residents of Cane Bay. If the board designates the additional revenue be used to service the loan and acquire equipment and apparatus for the Cane Bay station the WRVFD will use its existing revenue to hire and train additional firefighters/paramedics. The equipment and apparatus acquired using monies from the special Cane Bay fire fee by law shall be assigned to the Cane Bay station.
Now on to the explanation for the proposed change of objective.
It has become apparent that we will not be able to obtain signatures from 75% of the home owners in Cane Bay. This has always been a challenging objective, but the effort seemed worthwhile considering the benefit of success would be having Cane Bay designated a special tax district without the necessity of a vote on a referendum to do this. After several weeks of effort the progress in obtaining signatures in the other communities of Cane Bay has been minimal. At last count fewer than 60 signatures had been obtained from communities other than Del Webb (500+) and Four Seasons (50+). Considering there are approximately 4,000 homes in Cane Bay we would need 3,000 verified signatures to achieve the 75% percent needed to have Cane Bay designated a special tax district without a vote. Getting 3,000 signatures if highly unlikely.
We now will pursue the objective of obtaining the signatures of 15% of the registered voters in Cane Bay to have a referendum establishing Cane Bay as a special tax district placed on a special ballot that will be voted on by only residents of Cane Bay. With 4,000 homes in Cane Bay and estimating two (2) registered voters per home (approximately 8,000 voters) the petition requires obtaining 1,200 verified signatures. The new petition will require residents who are registered voters of Berkeley County to again sign the petition. The petition will be successful once 15% or more of the signatures obtained are verified by the Berkeley County Voters Registration and Elections department. Within 30 days of the petition being verified the Elections Department will arrange for the referendum to be placed on a special ballot that will be voted on by residents of Cane Bay only. The referendum will be passed by simple majority of 50% plus one (1) votes of all votes cast on the special ballot.
At this time we are working with county officials to ensure the petition form, format and expressed purpose are in compliance with state and county rules and regulations. As soon as we have assurance that we meet state and county requirements we will restart the petition signing process.
We also have pro bono legal support from Attorney Tom Fernandez, a Cane Bay resident. He is reviewing our petition forms and purpose to ensure they will comply with state and county rules and regulations. As soon as we have confirmation that the proposed petition forms are compliant we will reinstitute a petition signing schedule.
To summarize, we are asking all those who have already signed and all who have not yet signed to sign the newly reformatted petition when it is ready. We now will accept signatures of both residents of the household as long as they are both registered voters. Please help us complete these new petitions and get this important issue on next year’s ballot. Petition signing dates and times will be announced using the eBlast process.