CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - One Charleston City councilmember’s call to action is getting a lot of attention. Councilman Harry Griffin has created a petition to remove West Ashley from the City of Charleston.
He says the point of the petition is to see if there is a real interest in exploring an option to secede.
Griffin created it after Tuesday night’s city council discussion about the city budget.
City leaders are considering a tax increase to help balance next year’s budget. Griffin says while residents in his West Ashley district have been dissatisfied with the city’s treatment and services, the tax increase was the final straw.
“This year has just been a complete catastrophe and the icing on the cake was this tax increase. It is kind of like a slap in the face,” Griffin said. “Here we are taxing these people that had their businesses shut down for several months, and then we preach affordable housing, and this tax increase is going to make homes less affordable. Property owners are going to pass that burden back on people that rent for them.”
According to Griffin, if more than 50 percent resident freeholders in the city of Charleston signed a petition saying they wanted to secede, under state law there would have to be an election for all Charleston residents to vote on that.
Griffin says although there are several obstacles in making the secession option viable, if it happens there could be an option for West Ashley to join the St. Andrews Public Service District.
“I just know if people were to leave the city to go back in the county and possibly join the public service district, they would have their services taken care of,” he said. They are not in the city; they provide superior services than what the city provides, and they’re less likely to raise your taxes.”
Councilman Peter Shahid, who also represents a portion of West Ashley, believes the idea is not efficient.
“I’ve been working on trying to do address consolidating these donut holes in West Ashley, because you’ve got certain neighborhoods in which your neighbor is in the city of Charleston and you are not. You are duplicating service; I’m trying to do the exact opposite,” Shahid said. “Consolidating services are going to save tax dollars. What he’s proposing to do, I haven’t run the numbers, but I don’t think that’s going to save his constituents or people in the West Ashley, tax dollars.”
Griffin says if he doesn’t have one thousand signatures before city council votes on the budget proposal next Tuesday, he will drop this idea.