Each of the state’s 271 cities and towns is significant in its own way to the people who call these communities home and the businesses that choose to locate there. Ranging in size from Columbia at more than 129,000 to Smyrna at just under 50, the state’s cities and towns are one of the strong draws for businesses as they look to locate and expand in South Carolina.
“While one business may be seeking an industrial park that’s shovel-ready with city water and sewer already on site, another may be looking for a storefront in a rural downtown,” said Reba Campbell, deputy executive director of the Municipal Association of SC. “Common among all businesses looking to locate or expand in South Carolina cities is the need for business-friendly practices, a reasonable and fair tax structure, and safe streets and neighborhoods.” The Municipal Association represents all 271 South Carolina cities and towns.
As the elected leaders in the state’s cities and towns evaluate options for making their communities business friendly, safe and welcoming, they look at how changes in state law may provide new opportunities. Each year, the Municipal Association engages hundreds of municipal officials to identify major challenges facing their cities and towns around the state, and proposes changes in state law that could help meet those challenges.
The priorities for meeting these challenges in 2018 are included in the Municipal Association’s advocacy initiatives:
Encourage business growth and development
For businesses, time is money. Implementing standardized business licensing practices saves businesses time and supports local economic growth.
• Standardize business license tax collection processes across the state.
Provide quality services
Residents and businesses expect a positive quality of life and economic prosperity in their hometowns. To achieve this, dependable and consistent revenue sources are necessary to support the efficient and effective delivery of municipal services.
• Update the formula for the Local Government Fund to ensure a reliable revenue source for cities and towns.
• Increase flexibility for municipalities to raise revenue to support specific capital projects.
• Allow cities to annex certain enclaves by ordinance.
• Increase flexibility for municipalities to more effectively use local hospitality/accommodations tax and Victims Assistance funds
Increase funding for law enforcement
Law enforcement agencies face the challenge of recruiting, hiring and training highly qualified officers. Increased funding for training and resources will result in safer streets and communities.
• Increase reliable funding to offer more training opportunities for law enforcement officers.
• Increase funding for body worn cameras.
• Equip cities and towns with the tools to meet law enforcement challenges created by the opioid epidemic.
Expand funding sources for infrastructure
Long-term management of infrastructure extends beyond building roads, fixing potholes and cleaning drainage ditches. Cities and towns need resources and flexibility to prioritize and address local infrastructure challenges.
• Increase municipal representation on County Transportation Committees.
• Increase funding for drainage projects to mitigate flood-prone areas
• Identify funding sources for relocating municipally-owned utilities forced to move due to road and bridge construction.
Dilapidated structures pose a public safety threat in municipalities of all sizes. Additional tools to clear blight will ensure the safety of residents and visitors and spur economic development opportunities for business owners.
• Establish options to recover public funds spent to demolish or clean blighted property.