Winnsboro annexes 10 more properties

McMeekin: Bringing More People In Will Lower Utility Rates

WINNSBORO – Winnsboro Town Council voted unanimously Monday night to approve 10 properties for annexation into the town, bringing the total annexations to 16 since Oct. 5. Three more were on the agenda Monday night for first reading, and as many as 30 are waiting in the wings, according to Asst. Town Manager Chris Clausen

With the elimination of the $500 fee for annexation into the town, Winnsboro is seeing a surge in interest from property owners, says Town Manager Jason Taylor.

“In the past [the town was charging $500 for an annexation petition request. We’re not doing that anymore,” Taylor says. “There are no fees associated with an annexation petition, and we are accepting them without any cost to the applicant.”

Plus, because of Taylor’s experience with annexation in a previous job, he is able to handle these requests in-house without the kind of expensive legal review that used to be required.

After a story on the front page of the Oct. 14 edition of The Voice about the elimination of the $500 annexation fee, Taylor said he received about 50 inquiries about how citizens could annex into the town. Some of those, he said, were not contiguous with the town’s border, therefore were not eligible to annex.

As word has begun to get out about the benefits of annexing into the town, people have begun filing petitions to join the town so they can access trash pickup and lower utility rates. Ultimately, Taylor says, this will also make it easier for the town to deliver services.

“I think it makes sense from a service delivery perspective to have rational territories,” he says. “Right now our town’s border… it’s very erratic. You can really go down a street and this house is in, the next house is out, the next house is in, the next house is out, so you can imagine, for providing trash collection services… it would just make a lot more sense if we had consolidated communities.”

Another reason annexation is sometimes sought by landowners, Taylor says, is so they can develop their property more densely than is allowed by county zoning rules.

Mayor John McMeekin says opening up the door to annexation is aimed at promoting local business, scaling up services, and ultimately creating a better-run town.

He says those who are annexed into the town will not be charged property tax; the town’s small tax rate is more than offset by local sales tax collected by the state on Winnsboro’s behalf.

“There’s no city tax at this time,” McMeekin says, “and I don’t expect for there to be any.”

Winnsboro is uniquely situated as one of just a handful of towns in the state that provide all of the utility services for its residents; in that regard, the town runs a revenue-generating business that puts it in a unique position.

While Taylor says the town is gearing up to do some “strategic annexations” by reaching out to the owners of parcels with growth potential, the way state annexation law is written in South Carolina makes it challenging for a town to initiate the process – a fact that often leads to these irregular boundaries.

While the town is just accepting petitions for annexation right now, Taylor says, town leaders will soon be looking at the map and reaching out to landowners based on neighbors who want to be annexed and utility maps that show unclaimed electric power territories and good areas for water and sewer service expansion.

“If we can bring more people in, we can spread the cost across more customers and potentially provide services at a cheaper rate,” Taylor says.

“We would just welcome people. If they want to consider annexing into the town, we would be glad to consider their annexation petition.”

For information call (803) 635-4041.

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