Sunday, Sept. 11, 2005
Our friends in high places tell us the best thing we can do
to help victims of Hurricane Katrina is to donate money to
Red Cross or the Salvation
Army. We encourage you to do so.
Gas prices put
government services in a pickle
SC Statehouse Report
11, 2005 - - The high cost of gas is eating away at what government
While a random check of state and local governments showed
they seemed to be continuing essential services, such as ambulance
runs and school bus pick-ups, theyre curtailing or cutting
back on things like selective traffic stops (good for speeders),
travel, non-essential meetings, recycling programs and roadside
The gas crunch has put agencies in a pickle in our state,
which spent $557 million on fuel in June 2005, compared to
$257 million in August 1999, according to state figures.
State Superintendent Inez Tenenbaum, whose Department of Education
provides fuel for 5,000 buses that use 66,000 gallons a day,
faced a dwindling supply before her team was able to negotiate
for more fuel while Katrina-impacted pipelines were coming
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Still, because of rising prices, the department is paying
up to 54 cents more per gallon than what was budgeted at $1.80
cents per gallon. She expects schools, which used more than
12 million gallons of fuel last year, will face a shortfall
that could reach $4 million by June, a fact she is sharing
monthly with state lawmakers.
Its not available in our budget, she said.
They will have to help us with the overrun.
Other agencies that arent as reliant on fuel may not
have to seek extra help, but the high cost of fuel will have
a long-term impact.
They [gas prices] are killing us, says State Corrections
Director Jon Ozmint. And, I suspect high prices will
continue to punch a hole in our budget, even after supplies
His department recently was down to a three-day supply of
fuel. It has shut down all non-critical medical appointments
and non-emergency transportation runs, including taking prisoners
to court, he said.
The State Department of Agriculture, which uses some alternative
fuels, is even establishing a master calendar for travel
schedules to help create more opportunities for carpooling,
said Commissioner Hugh Weathers.
At the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, officials have
been asked to do more carpooling, limit meetings and cut travel.
Staff members were even encouraged to take a day of leave
when fuel prices looked bleakest, said Associate Director
The 50 percent increase of the past week, if sustained
for much longer, will seriously affect our operations,
He reports staff members are taking orders to conserve seriously.
Last weekend, for example, three wildlife officers monitoring
a dove field near Hopkins on the opening day of the season
arrived in one vehicle, instead of the usual vehicle per officer.
Also, they walked through the field to check licenses, instead
of driving through to spot-check hunters.
While taxpayers may have to be patient for some delivery of
government services in the days ahead, the fuel crunch is
at least doing one good thing: it is forcing agencies to look
for more ways to conserve and do things it could have been
doing for a long time to save money.
It also gives more incentives to state lawmakers, who may
have to come up with as much as $10 million to help agencies
weather the fuel crisis next year, to explore expanded use
of alternative fuels and renewable energy.
As Albert Einstein once said, the definition of insanity is
doing the same thing over and over again and expecting
different results. For state government and taxpayers
to continue to base our way of life on fossil fuels shows
how vulnerable we are. Its time to explore alternatives
and for the state to provide the leadership to do so.
your eye on the ball
Another great cartoon from Bill McLemore:
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Rant on property taxes
To the editor:
note: Spelling errors not corrected.)
about irony:The very folks that you did not mention in your
special to the progress article on aug
31,"market is driving property taxes",the hundreds
of thousands elderly citizens of South Carolina who have worked
all thier lives to own thier homes. Most are on fixed incomes
and cannot afford these property tax increases every five
years. "So why all the moaning" you asked? It is
because we have roots and we are not interested in selling
our homes just for the increase in monatory value.But most
of us,if we live long enough will do just that in order to
pay the increased taxes every five years as our purchasing
power continues to decline.If we don't the local tax collector
won't hesitate to do it for us. The only answer to our problem
is for the state legislature to replace all property taxes
with the 2 percent sales tax plan.We may not be able to purchase
everything we want but at least we won't be evicted from our
homes. Our constituion begins with the phraze "We,the
people".In our case that phraze has been replaced with
"I,the assessor". With the sales tax plan we would
no longer have a need for the "Office of assessor"
nor the "Office of tax collector".The budgets of
these offices could be combined and then multiplied by 46
counties which would be in the hundred of millions.That money
should be turned over to the schools of each county in addition
to the portion of property taxes they recieve now.This will
solve much of the school funding problems we have now and
we haven't raised taxes one cent. Additionally,you worried
about sales tax as a business disincentive and would hurt
s c merchants.You economists keep forgetting that business
does not pay taxes.they just pass it on to thier custumers.
I agree that the is a regressive tax hurts the low income
but at least we won't lose our homes and other properties.The
property tax cap is not an option for us either. As for Gov.
Sanfords ideas about taxes,I hope he stays out of this one.His
income tax reduction plan gave all the reductions to high
income citizens. The fixed income citizens i am talking about
did not recieve one penney of tax relief from his plan.
-- Alvin Jones,
energy is realistic
To the editor:
Thank you for your article (Commentary,
9/4) posted today in our Beaufort Gazette re: Alternative
Energy. You have an excellent peripheral view of the myriad
of opportunities from education to incentives for consumers
and builders, for passive and active strategies and many other
points all well taken. The problem is pay-back period. I mean
pay-back, period. There is no source of honest or non-conflict
of interest advertisement that can easily define or state
what one average person should do and in which order of investment
We have a very simple solution to this problem; however, we
are not the large power plants and oil companies with tremendous
advertising clout. We are the coming inventors and future
producers of special technologies that, if known now by people,
would stop a tremendous waste of taxpayer investment in hydrogen
and PV cells that the big companies want to promote. Worse,
by throwing tax credits out to consumers to buy what ever
is advertised with the most money simply perpetuates and bolsters
this waste of assets that otherwise could be focused into
mass-production of a new Model-E (E for energy alternative
immediate investment return and mass-production on a one-color
one-size fits all silver bullet).
You were exactly on target with the opportunity that SC has
for (new jobs creation) new alternative energy ideas. Unfortunately,
the engineers and electric producers (nuclear) have talked
all of our academia into riches and fame for making SC the
big nuclear power plant for the U.S. electric grid...S.C.
the Great Nuclear State. Maybe, Andy, you will be the one
new messenger who will not be swept up into the big cloud
and will do a bit of investigation into a new approach or
two that, with my 30 years of alternative energy investigation,
will provide a much smarter and faster and more rewarding
return on taxpayer investment for South Carolinians and all
peoples everywhere: solar nuclear conversion.
Why on Earth would we spend billions of dollars of research
on surface nuclear energy to make hydrogen when in just two
years we could be selling inexpensive cars that will get 125
miles per gallon? Yes, this is true, and a Texas University
owns the IP. I can show you how we can make one 10kW generator
that will use solar heat and natural gas that will do all
of your home power needs without grid tie-in at less than
you are now paying from SCE&G. The same 10kW engine that
will last decades on one oil change a year and can power (3)
5-ton heat pumps commercially on a 66% cycle-rate 24/7.
And, Andy, we can use solar nuclear to make refrigerated natural
gas that will drive the new "Super Car" without
pollution other than CO2, which can be reclaimed and sold
to bottlers and green houses. You have no idea what I am talking
about, but you have the intelligence to investigate and understand
if you would just take the energy. I will be happy to personally
intro you to the people and technologies that, if we ever
get some help from someone such as yourself, we can show the
honest and best means to global cooling & power.
-- Tom deTreville, Beaufort, SC
9/4: Way to
serve is to drive slower
To the editor:
The first step is conservation and that is a 55 mph. For
every gallon of
fuel we save across the board in America , we save 100 million
oil. More importantly we save lives ! Reduce injuries ! ,
costs, reduce our trade deficit, increase supply ,reduces
cost and etc . A
small sacrifice by all . 55 mph This is a must !!! This is
thing to do right now !!!!!!
-- Samuel Tenenbaum, Lexington, SC
Julius L. Brown, Hartsville, S.C.
tax isn't fair,
Ron McElhannon, Hartsville, S.C.
Warner B. Huck, Hilton Head Island, SC
Calbert W. Johnson, Bishopville,
learning is growing,
Prof. David Bossman, Seton
Hall University and part-time Charleston resident
assessment of problem,
Richard J. Mullin, Asheville, N.C.
needed to property taxes, Dr. Erwin E. Lambert, Georgetown,
flawed, Michael E. Dey, Vice President of
Government Affairs, South Carolina Association of REALTORS®,
the point on property tax,
Rick Davenport, Dataw Island, S.C.
taxes too high, Chris Walton, Hilton
Head Island, S.C.
all homeowners are investors,
Gary Smith, Hilton Head Island, SC
taxes aren't fair, David Whetsell,
aren't meant to be fair, Former
S.C. state legislator, name withheld upon request.
SOUTH CAROLINA SCORECARD
Here's a "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" related to various
political events from the past week:
Palmetto State residents. Big kudos to South Carolinians
from all over for helping victims of Hurricane Katrina in
myriad ways -- from offering jobs, helping clean-up efforts
and cash donations.
PACT. The state generally continues to improve on
scores on the Palmetto Achievement Challenge Test, but more
needs to be done.
Smith. Former House Minority Leader James Smith has
re-enlisted in the S.C. National Guard as an infantry officer,
which means he may head to the Mideast.
Sanford. Gov. Mark Sanford continues to split hairs
and try to spin out of doing wrong things. This time: He's
starting to use the Governor's Mansion for a political fund-raiser
- - something he criticized in the past.
Jobs. More than 53,000 South Carolina jobs went overseas
in the last 11 years because employers could pay lower wages
and cheap imports caused competition. Underlying problem:
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