Daniel Island must be feeling pretty special these days.
Last month, Berkeley County Council passed a resolution praising the island for its "invaluable contribution to Berkeley County and its citizens."
And in October, the Berkeley County School District, with great fanfare, renewed its promise to keep all Daniel Island students on the island through eighth grade.
You've got to figure flowers and candy will be next.
So why all the love for little ol' DI?
Well, it has everything to do with a meeting that took place Thursday afternoon - the first by the Daniel Island secession study committee.
Gov. Nikki Haley appointed the panel, which will study the pros and cons of the community switching from Berkeley to Charleston County, after she received a petition signed by about 750 of its registered voters.
See, Daniel Island hasn't been feeling the love from Berkeley lately, and Charleston County has been sitting there across the river, winking and blowing kisses.
But Berkeley County is not giving up without a fight.
In fact, Berkeley is just getting started.
Do the math
There has long been a perception in Berkeley County that the farther you live from Moncks Corner, the less important you are to the government.
County officials insist that's not the case. Unfortunately, in politics perception is reality.
Daniel Island, which is already in the city of Charleston, feels like it's been getting the short end of the stick for years. Their neighbors in Charleston County pay lower property taxes for more services. The island can't even get curbside recycling, much less a county park.
When the school district suggested it might renege on its promise to build a new school on the island earlier this year, residents started the secession petition drive. But that was just the last straw, not the whole reason.
County Councilman Tim Callanan, a Daniel Island resident, says this should be a big wake-up call for Berkeley County.
Daniel Island is home to about 9,000 people - less than 5 percent of Berkeley County's population. But the island contributes about 20 percent of the county's residential property tax base. If the government doesn't take this seriously, Callanan says, Charleston will sweep Daniel Island off its Race-for-a-Cure-worn feet - just to get the tax revenue.
And that will hurt Berkeley County coffers. Do the math - Charleston has.
"Charleston County has nothing to lose and a lot to gain," Callanan says. "Berkeley County has to be prepared to respond to that."
And Callanan is working on that response.
Just after the holidays, a new committee set up by Callanan will begin studying Daniel Island, Clements Ferry and the West Wando areas of Berkeley County.
They will look at the schools, infrastructure and economic development. They will try to figure out what services the county needs to add or improve.
"You've got 18,000 new homes going up around Clements Ferry, and most of them will be in the city of Charleston," Callanan says. "The county will have to provide very few services, but will see a lot of new tax revenue. The county should invest in that area."
He's right - it's only fair.
At the same time, the secession panel will plow through its work, which is basically gathering enough facts for Daniel Island residents to make an informed decision. See, the next step is for the island to vote. The referendum to secede has to pass with 67 percent of the vote or all this goes away.
That's a steep hurdle - it's hard to get a two-thirds majority vote on what color the sky is.
In the fall, it looked like this secession movement had more than enough movement to succeed. It may still. But proponents concede that the school district's announcement to keep all island kids on the island will probably somewhat dampen enthusiasm.
Callanan hopes that something good can come out of this. By that he means that he hopes Berkeley County appreciates what it has in Berkeley County. His committee should make that abundantly clear.
So it looks like, ultimately, Daniel Island wins - no matter which county it decides to call home.
Reach Brian Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org
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