Charleston County tries to curb personal contact with James Island man

David Coe, a local boat owner and retired yacht captain, who wants Charleston County to collect taxes on boats and yachts tied up along county waterways.

A Connecticut yacht captain who retired to James Island five years ago and has spent countless hours examining Charleston County's property tax system -- particularly yacht taxes -- is being asked to stay away from county employees.

County Administrator Allen O'Neal wrote to David Coe last week to inform him that his "loud, demanding and belligerent" attitude is harming employees' work in several departments.

O'Neal asked that Coe direct future communications via the U.S. mail instead of telephone, in person or email.

"The volume and tone of your increasingly frequent telephone calls and emails, many of which are simply antagonistic and repetitive, has caused disruption to some of the operations of the county," O'Neal's July 1 letter said.

Coe, who has sent hundreds of emails and attended most County Council meetings during the past three years, has doggedly sought to identify yachts that have remained in local waters long enough that their owners should pay property taxes on them.

He said $800,000 in county boat taxes has been collected in recent years in large part because of his efforts.

"If I turn around and rile a couple of administration people or a couple of elected officials, I don't care what they think. I care what the public thinks," he said.

Coe wrote back to O'Neal the next day, saying, "I am truly sorry that you have to spend some of your remaining time as County Administrator at $168,000 a year scolding a 64-year-old man on how to deal with elected officials and Charleston County employees." O'Neal's contract ends Jan. 31.

O'Neal said he was not asking Coe to limit his communications with the county "but simply ask that you refrain from disturbing county employees."

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