, 2022-10-30 11:00:00,
MOUNT PLEASANT — It’s been more than a decade since the town bought more than 120 acres for a future park. Now, voters are being asked to approve a property tax increase to make that park a reality.
Most of the $50 million Mount Pleasant would borrow, if the park tax referendum were to pass in a town-wide vote Nov. 8, would be used to develop the site on Rifle Range Road, with an estimated $10 million going to other recreation projects.
The town’s property tax would rise by 10 percent to pay off the borrowed money plus interest. When the debt is paid off after 15 years the extra tax would end, according to advocates, although the referendum does not mention a time limit.
The impact on total property tax bills would be much smaller than a 10 percent increase because the town accounts for just a portion of those annual bills and the school district gets the largest share.
Most Town Council members — seven of nine — supported putting the referendum on the ballot and some are actively working to see it passed.
“We’re trying to create something for this generation and the next,” Councilman John Iacofano said. “I think it’s going to be tight, but I think it’s going to pass.”
Mayor Will Haynie and Councilwoman Brenda Corley are opposed.
“In bad economic times, not everyone can afford this,” said Haynie. “I’m out there letting people know why they ought to vote no.”
He said the town should rely on impact fees that apply to new home construction to fund growth-related needs for recreation projects. The most those fees could raise would be $1.68 million yearly by Haynie’s estimate and wouldn’t allow the town to borrow tens of millions to put plans in action.
“If the referendum is successful, we can begin building immediately,” Iacofano and Councilwoman G.M. Whitley wrote, urging support for the ballot question.
Plans for the park site include four large playing fields, tennis and pickleball courts, playgrounds, fishing piers, a disc golf course, trails, volleyball and basketball courts, a performance space and a multipurpose building.
“It will be the Central Park of Mount Pleasant,” then-Mayor Billy Swails said in 2010, when the town and county agreed to spend $20 million to buy the land.
Iacofano said that if the town had raised its property tax then, the town would have a park by now.
“I don’t know that…
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