Local governments in South Carolina can be sparing in the services they provide their residents, especially in the unincorporated parts of a county. One solution for getting more out of government is establishing a special tax district — an entity formed by property owners to collect taxes to pay for service needs they have in common. The DesChamps Law Firm in Myrtle Beach is experienced in creating special tax districts that comply with state law and that are responsive to owners’ concerns and financial means.
A special tax district is formed by a county government at the request of the district’s residents in conformity with state law. Its purpose is to provide specified services not offered by the county or municipality of which it is a part. These services may include roads, street lights, drainage, sewage treatment and water treatment and distribution. The district may also finance public works projects focused on public health and safety, economic development, transportation, recreation and disaster preparedness.
In order to provide the desired services, the special tax district’s governing board has the authority to assess and impose a tax on the value of real estate in the district, known as an ad valorem tax. Unlike a homeowners’ association (HOA), which is a private organization that may also charge its residents for various services, a special tax district is a public entity and as a result has greater enforcement power. Each property owner in the vicinity is taxed based on the county millage rate, the district’s yearly budget and the assessed value of the owner’s property compared with others in the district.
Are you a property owner in a subdivision or neighborhood where the roads are not maintained by the government or by the homeowners’ association? Do you need street lights that the HOA can’t afford to install? Do you and other neighbors feel that the streets might be safer if you had police cars patrolling the area or speed bumps in place to slow fast-moving traffic? If you are concerned about the absence of these and other services, you may want to consider forming a special tax district. However, you will first want to get a general idea of how many other homeowners in your area have similar concerns and how much money you all can set aside to pay for the costs and fees involved. We can explain to you and your neighbors the process of creating a special tax district and help you decide if it’s the right move in your circumstances.
You and your neighbors might think you can form a special tax district without legal assistance simply by following the authorizing statute, but the process can be more complicated than the statute suggests. You will need an attorney who is familiar with and has worked with the county assessor’s office and the county counsel, as well as a title abstractor who can locate a map of the proposed area for the special tax district. Bill DesChamps, founder and managing attorney of the DesChamps Law Firm, helped create some of the first special tax districts in Horry County. We are one of the few local law firms with a special concentration in this technical field of law.
Our knowledgeable real estate lawyers are pleased to meet with you and other residents of your community to explain the advantages and costs of starting a special tax district. Call the DesChamps Law Firm in Myrtle Beach at 843-213-6430 or contact us online to set up an initial consultation.