COLUMBIA -- Rep. Jim Merrill, a Daniel Island Republican and former state House majority leader, said Thursday he expects the Legislature to be resistant to making any law changes that grant local governments flexibility when it comes to taxes.
"Everything gets discussed, but I would think after this past year's election, where people who support increases in taxes were uniformly dispatched from the voters, our General Assembly is going to be very hesitant."
Merrill's comments came in response to the legislative agenda of the Municipal Association of South Carolina.
The association is asking lawmakers to allow cities and towns to ask voters for authority to levy capital projects sales taxes and remove a "use it or lose it" provision on year-to-year property-tax increases tied to population growth and inflation.
The agenda also seeks to give local government more authority to annex so-called doughnut holes that make trash pick-up and emergency services difficult to provide and allow new tools to deal with blighted properties.
Merrill said, like mayors and city and town council members, state lawmakers are in close and regular contact with state residents. The Legislature is a part-time body, and given their statewide perspective, Merrill said, lawmakers have a less narrow view of the taxes residents are faced with.
Mount Pleasant Mayor Billy Swails and Goose Creek Mayor Michael Heitzler told The Post and Courier that they support the Municipal Association's agenda, noting that their town and city hasn't increased taxes in decades.
"Everything that the mayors said, a lot of it is accurate," Merrill said. "They may not have increased local taxes," but lawmakers have to look at all the taxes residents face when considering how to set tax policies. "That is our role."