The esteemed Columbia County Commissioners, (hereinafter referred to as the CCC) in 1999 created the “Columbia County Development Agency” (referred to as the “agency”), an urban renewal agency The agency submitted an application for the county’s consideration of the Port Westward Urban Renewal plan (now known as the plan) on March 4th, 2001.
Here I could go on how all the recommendations from the agency to approve the plan. In 2001 the CCC’s created an Ordinance what is known as ordinance no. 2001-06, the Port Westward Urban Renewal Plan Ordinance. Now for all of you property owners in Columbia Co. (This also affects renters) if you look at your property tax statements for 2019 to 2020, you will notice that you pay the largest amount to CCDA, 27% and the second largest to schools, 26%. As for me, in 2009-2010 my property tax was $2,590.13, education total $1,216.37, CCDA $17.77. Now in 2019-2020 my property tax was $4,421.50, education total $1,059.79, $157.58 less than ten years ago. CCDA $1,167.82, $1,150.05 more than ten years ago. A friend (Sharon) and I met with Columbia county Commissioner Margaret Magruder to ask questions and our concerns about CCDA, I will add that Margaret did not have anything in creating CCDA but is defending it. We asked some questions,
1- Was the formation and function of the agency put to a vote of Columbia County voters. – No.
2- How is what I pay to this taxing district determined and what are the limits? Very long explanation but no real answer, kind of like a wheel, starting at the bottom and going in a big circle up and around back to the bottom, with no real answer.
3- What is the money used for; i.e. what urban renewal am I paying for and what am I getting for this money? Same circle as above.
4- Do all property owners in the county pay taxes to this district? Yes.
5- Why do only a few Columbia County voters get to vote for Port Commissioners when most of CCDA funds go to port projects, another long answer, big circle again.
After getting some public records to try to see where the money has been going, I then went to a certified CPA accountant and after she looked over the papers that I had gotten, she said “a lot is in other accounts.” So basically, it is a fund controlled by the Columbia County commissioners, which they doll out as they see fit.
So, Columbia County voters, you are being taxed without being about to vote on this, we need a ballot measure to disband the CCDA and also no tax of any kind be allowed unless ok’ed by the voters.
Michael P. George