JAMES ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - A James Island Town Council workshop meeting turned heated Wednesday night after Mayor Bill Woolsey allegedly became upset and abruptly left the meeting.
Council members say he then returned with a recycling bin full of documents and proceeded to dump the contents onto the floor.
“He then went back into the town offices and got a second recycle bin and dumped it on the floor in front of all of us and then tossed the recycle bin across the conference room,” said Councilmember Cynthia Mignano. “I was definitely shocked. I found it to be unprofessional on his part. There are other ways that you can get your point across.”
Councilmember Garrett Milliken was also in the room. He says the mayor can be a passionate person, but this was truly a unique moment.
“It is my opinion that the mayor’s actions were disrespectful toward Councilperson Mignano and were unbecoming of an elected official,” Milliken said.
The point of the workshop was to discuss and understand the current cost sharing agreement with the James Island Public Service District and the tax credit associated with it.
The Town of James Island levies a 20 mil property tax. The town provides a 100% Local Option Sales Tax credit against its property tax so that the town’s millage imposes no added burden on town property taxpayers.
Mignano says they were looking at possibilities to give the money back to citizens in different ways. Mignano says she had asked about simply giving the credit directly to taxpayers.
“I definitely felt that his response to my question was an attempt to cause me not to ask any more questions,” Mignano said. “Behavior like that makes it difficult for all of town council to help the citizens of James Island and properly manage the town.”
Woolsey saw it differently.
“Councilwoman Mignano was advocating a 40% increase in the property taxes town residents pay to the James Island Public Service District,” Woolsey said. “She asserted that it would be much simpler if they all paid this increased tax and the town refunded the monies by mailing checks to the taxpayers.”
He says they used to mail refund checks back in 2010, but it was an administrative nightmare for the town’s one finance clerk.
“The town had many hundreds of returned checks and many taxpayers completed applications to reissue checks that included errors,” Woolsey said. “I have kept the returned checks, application forms and other materials from this 2010 program. I piled them on the floor of council chambers to illustrate exactly how such a program was the opposite of ‘easy.’”
Mignano says the mayor is mischaracterizing her position.
“I, most certainly, am not proposing a 40% tax hike. That tax is already there,” Mignano said. “I am asking for a more direct refund to the taxpayers. That is all. I do not have the authority to raise taxes, nor do I want to do so. The tax credit would come directly to the taxpayer in my proposed plan.”
Several council members said it was weird moment that left the mayor pale and out of breath.
“I was concerned for his health. He was pale and out of breath, and I was definitely concerned that this was not a good move for him and that it could have been harmful to his physical health,” Mignano said.
Mignano says she apologized when the mayor left the room for the second time for asking the question that caused the commotion.