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Nov 30 2019

Editorial: Sullivan’s Island Cannot Afford ‘Free’ Parking

By Greg Hammond for Island Eye News 

We’ve all heard the saying “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.”  The reality of the situation is that there’s no such thing as free parking either.

Both IOP and Folly seem to have figured this out… it’s time for Sullivan’s to do the same.

The Town of Sullivan’s Island, a small town with about 2,000 residents has an annual budget that totals approx. $6 million.

Each year, the town spends over $2 million on additional police, emergency and waste management services to support is ever growing visitor population.

That’s over 30% of the town’s annual expenditures.  (Data point: Sullivan’s Island spends $1,483 per resident on police and emergency services; Mt Pleasant by comparison spends $355 per capita). 

As a result, Sullivan’s Island has largely been unable to set aside funds to upkeep its infrastructure and facilities.  In fact, in the last 8 years, the Town has only allocated an average of $70,000 per year toward its Capital Improvements Reserve.  This historical lack of saving forced the town to raise $22 million in property-tax funded debt over this same period to address infrastructure and facility needs.  Unfortunately, the list of current and future needs remains long and grows by the day, and the Town is currently faced with the necessity of raising even more property-tax funded debt. 

In short, it’s time for Sullivan’s to begin to defray some of the costs of its visitor traffic through paid parking.  The Town needs to be in a position where it can address the maintenance and capital needs of its aging infrastructure without having to raise additional debt.  The good news?  Sullivan’s has the money to do it… it’s just currently being spent on ‘free’ parking. 

Greg Hammond is a Town of Sullivan’s Island Council member. He can be reached at ghammond@sullivansislandsc.com.

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