AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) – The Aiken City Council narrowing in on unincorporated property.
Currently there are more than 280 land parcels zoned as part of Aiken County, but are within the City of Aiken limits. Now leaders want to pass a resolution to annex those lots into the city.
When the vehicle maintenance fee was approved, many City of Aiken residents were outraged. Due to “doughnut holes” a city resident could live next door to a county resident that doesn’t have to pay the tax. Yet, the county resident could still get the perks of city provided services. Therefore to make it fair for everyone, city leaders want to close those gaps.
The lines are thin between Aiken County and the City of Aiken. Legare Road and Evans Road are in the same neighborhood, but take a left onto Legare and you’re in the city. Turn right onto Evans and you’re considered in the county.
“I’ve never lived in a city, where all of the residents in the city weren’t city residents.” Aiken City District 3 Councilman Dick Dewer said.
Jeffery Ceadle’s home is on Evans Road, which is part of Aiken County. Ceadle lives right down the street from city residents Robin Byrne. While both homeowners live in the same subdivision, due to “doughnut holes” Ceadle doesn’t get the same benefits as Byrne.
Byrne says she has to pay an extra tax, but it worth it for peace of mind. “A good example of the city, is if I go out of town I can let public safety know and they will stop by and check on my house for me.” Byrne told WJBF NewsChannel 6.
Councilman Dewer says non-city residents are currently charged double for using city services, but the law allows the city to charge up to 4 times the standard rate.
“Most people take a look at this and say I don’t want to be in the city because I get an extra tax bill,” Dewer told WJBF NewsChannel 6. “Yes you will get an extra tax bill, but you’ll pay less for water. You’ll pay less for fire. You’ll pay less for recreation, garbage, trash, and honestly public safety.”
While the City Council is still considering what incentives they can offer non-city residents to annex. For Ceadle the choice is simple, “right now I’m paying higher for garbage service. I’m paying a higher rate for water utilities. So if I get annexed. I’m probably going to have to pay higher taxes, but it would be off-set with additional services.”
Dewer says he hopes to present the resolution to the City Council at the September 12th meeting.
Leaders still need to decide if they will increase the rates they charge non-city residents for services.
Count on WJBF NewsChannel 6 to bring you the latest on this developing story.