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Letter: Living in Kershaw County

Posted: March 5, 2018 3:15 p.m.
Updated: March 6, 2018 1:00 a.m.

We chose to move to this community over 50 years ago because we wanted to live in or near a small SC town, with good schools, a good public recreation program, great churches and a good job. Having several choices, we came here because the community met all our wants. After we arrived, we discovered friendly folks lived here as well. We have never regretted our decision. Today I believe we are moving into an unusually great time to live here.

Many things have changed over the years because of changes in our nation and in the world. In the ’70s and ’80s we lost much of our local industry such as textile mills, ended some major products that DuPont produced here, and lost small businesses that served those industries. As we lost our industrial base and many jobs, we actually gained population, particularly in the western portion of the county because of low taxes and because its a great place to live. Many of the folks live here, but have jobs outside of the county because the businesses and industries are outside. 

With the increased population, reduced industrial tax base, and increased demand for services like schools, sanitation services, fire protection and safety protection, our tax dollars were stretched too far. This resulted in our schools having to minimize the number of teachers, increase class size and eliminate some important offerings. This was not because of poor management, but rather the lack of adequate funds. Likewise, our public recreation facilities and programs suffered because of the lack of funds. Some neighboring counties passed us by in quality of life factors like available jobs, diversity of educational offerings, and improved public recreation facilities. They have done this with increased property taxes and growth of their industrial tax base.

In response to our economic problem, our current county leadership, school district and city leaders have joined in an economic development effort that will return us to a balanced economy that will enable us to enjoy prosperity, great education for our students, good job opportunities and a quality of life befitting this community. They have led us to a more efficient and safer educational system with a local opportunity for higher education making this a better educated community and a more desirable one for business and industry. The education system and offerings are being upgraded to enable our students to be successful whatever path they choose in life. Our public recreation facilities are being upgraded to encourage happier and healthier citizens, especially our youth.

One important key to the success of our leader’s efforts is the investment to expand and increase our businesses and industries in the county. This effort is being driven by investment in a broad but coordinated economic development program that will provide modern manufacturing buildings to encourage quick startups, a new facility to assist new startups, as well as expansion of existing industries and widespread public promotion of our community. The new manufacturing buildings are an investment recommended by experts in economic development. The new assistance facility is a modern industrial recruitment and training space that is appropriate for Kershaw County’s future.

The coordinated effort is already paying dividends. Recent decisions by existing large companies to stay and expand here are evident by announcement of fee in lieu of taxes agreements (FILOT’s) that mean our industrial tax revenue has increased to provide for everything from fire protection to schools. Granting a FILOT is just an agreement to give the business a lower tax rate on new facility investment for a few years as an incentive. It is still an increase in taxes they pay to the county. It is much like getting a new industry in the county.

Two important factors result. First, our county and school district leaders are taking actions to improve our quality of life without major property tax increases. Second, they are maintaining sufficient reserves to ensure excellent financial ratings. This makes Kershaw county look great as a place to live, appreciate and enjoy.

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