West Columbia, Springdale compete for neighborhoods

(ColaDaily.com) Residents of four neighborhoods will vote next month on whether they want to be annexed into the town of Springdale. Now, West Columbia officials are lobbying for those neighborhoods to join their city instead.

The neighborhoods being sought by both municipalities are Westgate, Stonewood, Darby Place and Fox Glen. Homeowners will vote on the Springdale annexation April 14, and town officials discussed the pros and cons of said choice, like improved police protection and slightly higher taxes, at a recent town hall meeting.

West Columbia officials launched a campaign this week to persuade residents that their city is a better choice.

“The mayor and council of West Columbia urge you to consider all your options before deciding about annexing into Springdale,” Mayor Joe Owens said in a letter to homeowners.

West Columbia specifically is touting lower water rates. Owens said City Council is willing to offer its in-city rates, which are about 50 percent lower than Lexington County rates, immediately to water customers in the proposed annexation area if they vote no.

“We will offer this lower rate for up to two years in order for West Columbia to prepare a future vote on annexing into our city,” he said.

Councilman Tem Miles said extending the lower rates is a “show of good faith” since the city intends to attempt an annexation if the people decide against joining Springdale.

According to calculations made by West Columbia city officials, people could save $115 per year by becoming part of the city and taking advantage of in-city rates. City officials also estimate people would save $84 per year on street lighting costs and $60 on hydrant fees.

The savings for using the city’s sanitation service comes out to the same as using Springdale’s service, according to West Columbia officials.

The net savings add up to about $450 per yer, compared with $191 annually in Springdale, with the potential for additional insurance savings, as the West Columbia Fire Department has the lowest ISO rating in the county.

Like Springdale, higher taxes are a factor in the West Columbia annexation, too. Property tax for homeowners is estimated to increase by approximately $180 per $100,000 of assessed value. Vehicle taxes would increase by $60 on average.

Property taxes, vehicle taxes, hydrant fees and sanitation fees add up to $960 in Lexington County, $1,068 in Springdale and $950 in West Columbia annually.

Miles said adding the approximately 1,000 residents wouldn’t be a large financial gain for West Columbia since the city already provides them with water.

“It’s important for people to have all of the pros and cons so they know there are other choices,” he said. “We do have great benefits and great services.”

If the vote to annex into Springdale doesn’t pass next month, West Columbia would have to follow in Springdale’s footsteps and collect signatures of residents in the four neighborhoods to hold an election and potentially annex into the city.

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