Dorothy Traxler of Fleming Road was one of about 300 people who attended a forum Wednesday hosted by the city of Charleston for James Islanders interested in annexing their properties into the city.
Traxler wanted to know how her trash and garbage pickups might change and asked how her property tax burden would be affected. "If I join the city, will I still have to pay the James Island Public Service District?" she asked Charleston Planning Director Tim Keane.
Keane told Traxler her garbage pickup would be on Thursdays if she joins the city, and that she'd pay property taxes to the city and no longer pay the PSD. Keane said he'd have to get some information from Traxler "and run the numbers." to determine exactly how her tax bill would differ.
He said about 150 people have filed applications to join the city since the state Supreme Court ruled in June that the town of James Island did not incorporate properly.
But not everyone attending the informal gathering at the Lowcountry Senior Center was interested in joining the city. Some privately expressed disgust that the city and Mayor Joe Riley have three times sued the town over its incorporation -- and won in court each time -- thereby rendering the town non-existent.
"Joe Riley talks a lot about neighborhoods, but he's ripping James Island neighborhoods apart," declared Carter McMillan, who was a James Island town councilman until the Supreme Court on July 22 refused to reconsider its June ruling.
Supporters of the town are working on a fourth incorporation, knowing that the city is meanwhile taking in as much of the former town as it can. James Balliet, who was a James Island council candidate last year, said many islanders will never join the city. He claimed that each time Riley reaches for annexations, "animosity" against him grows.
"It's personal with him, it's a vendetta," Balliet said. "The spirit of James Island will never die."
Joe Brinson of Lawton Bluff subdivision said Riley "is like a tide that keeps banging and banging till they get their way." He said he wished Riley had been present to answer a question: 'If I am in the city, can I light off my Fourth of July fireworks?' "
McMillan said some islanders have told him the city has phoned them repeatedly about joining the city, and that callers have asked, "What would it take to get you into the city?"
Keane said phone calls have been made by his office but maintained people who turn down the city are not called again.
The city brought to the forum maps illustrating what properties currently not in the city are contiguous to properties that are. Those properties could join Charleston immediately, pending City Council approval, Keane said.
He said properties not contiguous will be able to join only if neighboring tracts join first and make them contiguous.
Charts also showed comparisons between city and unincorporated James Island taxes, water and sewer costs and stormwater fees, and illustrated lower fees for using city recreation sites and programs. The city charts also touted the services provided by city police and fire departments.