In a recent letter Mayor Bill Collins itemized 15 accomplishments during his four years in office. He claims he balanced the budget “with no increase in taxes.”
This is misleading. He and Town Council raised franchise fee taxes on our gas, electric and cable bills in 2012, adding $1.2 million annually to a large surplus left to him by the previous mayor.
Mayor Collins is burning through that surplus now, spending it on expensive consultants and lobbyists who are instructing our town officials how to disenfranchise voters, rezone for high-rises and subsidize private developers who build them.
He is also using our tax money to buy historic cottages and then destroy them to make way for a massive hotel/condo complex he wants to build in the heart of the Historic District.
I find it curious that he does not mention the hotel in his letter or in his campaign literature. This divisive taxpayer money pit has consumed a major amount of town time and resources for the last two years.
Citizens have filed suit against the project, alleging that it was unlawfully solicited, awarded and negotiated in secret, and that the town falsely declared its own Historic District property “blighted” so it could take advantage of a state “redevelopment” law that allows municipalities to subsidize private developers with tax dollars and other concessions and avoid public hearings — all in the name of eradicating blight.
And more is on the way, with a plan for high-density “in fill,” high-rises and “mixed-use” developments all over Summerville.
Voters will have a choice at the voting booth on Nov. 3. Wiley Johnson is opposing Mayor Collins and his plans for redeveloping Summerville.