By Ted Kinghorn, Vice Chairman, IOP Ways and Means Committee
Ask any municipal official from another jurisdiction if they would like to be in IOP’s financial position and I believe you will receive a resounding “Yes!” Having worked with and for South Carolina local governments over the past 35 years I feel that I am in a unique position to make this statement.
Fortunately our city’s revenue is diverse with resident’s property taxes paying less than 10% of the City’s total annual receipts. We have been able to achieve this, without increasing property taxes, by looking at other sources of revenue. By example, we now collect over $700,000 annually from visitors who use our parking lots. All the while making them available for free to our citizens who have current parking decals. This revenue, as well as tourism, accommodations, local option and other state shared revenue programs ensures a continued robust financial position.
Other initiatives such as tenant agreements, grants and traditional city revenue streams complete our strong balance sheet.
Our expenses have been well managed by a strong, dedicated professional staff that received a unanimous vote of confidence at a council meeting earlier this year. They have overseen quality city services, growing maintenance programs and additional capital equipment and procurement projects. They do this with a keen eye on managing costs so that the city receives the best products and services for our citizens.
For years the City of Isle of Palms revenue has exceeded expenses by a substantial amount. This has allowed for: cutting our debt in half over the past eight years, a growing reserve (by percentage of annual operating budget is seldom achieved by local governments) and an establishment of a $2.2 million Beach Preservation Fund.
If you want independent, verifiable confirmation of these facts, rest assured island residents, that we have annually received successful independent audits and improved bond ratings: Standard and Poor’s AA+ and Moody’s Aa1.
There is always room for improvement and we will continue to strive to exceed our citizen’s expectations. Being a resort community we must take some comfort in accepting that our guests and nonresident homeowners help subsidize all island residents. So, the next time we are a little inconvenienced let’s remember to give our guests the thumbs up. Keep Palm and Carry On!