South Carolina cities and towns are hubs for economic activity all over the state, and local officials are always seeking new and innovative ways to increase the quality of life for residents, ensure a strong business climate for local companies and attract visitors. Each year, the Municipal Association holds 10 Regional Advocacy Meetings to hear from local officials about challenges they face in meeting these goals.
"Through these regional meetings involving hundreds of municipal officials in August and September, we hear themes developing around specific issues that concern local officials," said Reba Campbell, the Association's deputy executive director. "In many cases, solutions to these challenges can come from changes in state law."
To offer solutions, the Association's board of directors approved the 2018 Advocacy Initiatives. Each action item represents a recommended change to state law that would give local governments more tools to meet these challenges. These initiatives are intended to encourage business growth and development, provide quality municipal services, increase funding for law enforcement, expand funding sources for infrastructure and reduce blight.
The Advocacy Initiatives will be highlighted at the 2018 Hometown Legislative Action Day on February 6. The deadline for preregistration is January 23.
Encourage business growth and development
For businesses, time is money. Implementing standardized business licensing practices saves businesses time and supports local economic growth.
- Standardize business license tax collection processes across the state.
Provide quality services
Residents and businesses expect a positive quality of life and economic prosperity in their hometowns. To achieve this, dependable and consistent revenue sources are necessary to support the efficient and effective delivery of municipal services.
- Update the formula for the Local Government Fund to ensure a reliable revenue source for cities and towns.
- Increase flexibility for municipalities to raise revenue to support specific capital projects.
- Allow cities to annex certain enclaves by ordinance.
- Increase flexibility for municipalities to more effectively use local hospitality/accommodations tax and victims assistance funds.
Increase funding for law enforcement
Law enforcement agencies face the challenge of recruiting, hiring and training highly qualified officers. Increased funding for training and resources will result in safer streets and communities.
- Increase reliable funding to offer more training opportunities for law enforcement officers.
- Increase funding for body worn cameras.
- Equip cities and towns with the tools to meet law enforcement challenges created by the opioid epidemic.
Expand funding sources for infrastructure
Long-term management of infrastructure extends beyond building roads, fixing potholes and cleaning drainage ditches. Cities and towns need resources and flexibility to prioritize and address local infrastructure challenges.
- Increase municipal representation on county transportation committees.
- Increase funding for drainage projects to mitigate damage to flood-prone areas.
- Identify funding sources for relocating municipally owned utilities forced to move due to road and bridge construction.
Dilapidated structures pose a public safety threat in municipalities of all sizes. Additional tools to clear blight will ensure the safety of residents and visitors and spur economic development opportunities for business owners.
- Establish options to recover public funds spent to demolish or clean blighted property.