Mertes column: TOIL is not transparent

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Guest columnist Indian Land resident Jim Mertes is a member of Indian Land Action Council.

Iread with interest the Dec. 14 column by Richard Dole, president of Voters for a Town of Indian Land (TOIL), published in Carolina Gateway.
First, I would like to thank the Gateway editor for correcting the misrepresentations contained in Mr. Dole’s letter. Would you not think that the self-appointed leader of TOIL would know the facts better than he does? Is it not scary that Mr. Dole does not know such basic facts? Or is TOIL trying to scare and mislead the good citizens of Indian Land? In either event, I must ask: Are these the type of people Indian Land residents want leading them to incorporation?
In order to assess properly TOIL’s statements and representations, several of us residents have asked the leadership of TOIL for a detailed, line-by-line budget for a town of Indian Land. This basic information has been requested repeatedly, but never has been forthcoming. It has been requested via multiple sources: e.g., in face-to-face meetings, email, through the Indian Land Action Council and through social media. I have the email chain to verify these requests. Yet TOIL has been totally non-responsive to the all of these requests. Is TOIL hiding something?
TOIL members have been asked: “What are your credentials to lead such an important initiative?” Once again, all members of TOIL have been non-responsive to this request for information. Why are they so secretive and non-transparent? Do they have something to hide or do they have their own agenda?
I would like to ask Mr. Dole and Matt McCusker how many residents voted on Nov. 8 at Transformation Church and how many of that number signed the petition? How do they know how many who entered the church signed their petition? When I was at that church, I did not see anyone counting the number who entered the church to vote. So one must ask, is their “about 90 percent” estimate accurate, or is it just another misrepresentation?
The 2 percent hospitality tax referenced in Mr. Dole’s letter is a diversionary issue devised by TOIL to unnecessarily increase emotion. A couple of questions on the hospitality tax:
u How frequently do Mr. Dole and other TOIL leaders shop and eat in the Charlotte area, which also has a hospitality tax? None of that money (neither the sales tax money nor the hospitality tax money) is returned to Indian Land. As a matter of fact, none of it even comes back to Lancaster County or the state of South Carolina.
u How often do Mr. Dole and other TOIL leaders shop and eat in Fort Mill, which also has a 2 percent hospitality tax? None of that money is returned to Indian Land or Lancaster County.
u Are the citizens of Indian Land really that selfish that we would incorporate because this 2 percent hospitality tax is shared with the rest of our county? Think about it; a $50 meal in Indian Land will be increased by $1. Seems as if the members of TOIL really are that selfish! Even if we incorporate, Indian Land would only receive half of the hospitality tax. Are all of the extra taxes incorporation will bring worth half of the hospitality tax?
Items not talked about by TOIL are the potential increases in licensing and taxes to Indian Land businesses. It has been said that business does not pay taxes; their customers pay the taxes. As business owners increase their prices to cover the extra cost of doing business in Indian Land, then those increases may be passed onto us as the consumers. I am confident that these tax increases far exceed the half of the hospitality tax that may or may not make its way back to Indian Land.
Do we want to pay hundreds of dollars in additional real estate taxes, vehicle taxes, golf cart taxes and more, just to keep a portion of the hospitality tax in Indian Land? I really doubt it.
Before signing the petition, ask yourself: “Am I signing a blank check? What exactly will I get in return for hundreds of dollars more in property taxes and other increased taxes?”
Better yet, ask the leaders of TOIL what they can guarantee in exchange for taking more of your hard-earned money in the form of increased taxes? I will bet their answer is that they simply cannot guarantee anything.
Don’t let TOIL scare you into an irreversible decision. Once incorporated, it cannot be undone. Incorporation is not like a marriage. Incorporation is permanent!
The time may come when incorporation is appropriate. But I personally am not convinced that this is the time with this group of self-appointed individuals, who will not be transparent on major issues.