HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C.. (WTOC) -An additional fee to the Beaufort County sheriff’s office is a point of contention between Hilton Head leaders and Beaufort County.
Town leaders say they’re suing the county over the fee. They claim it would unfairly charge their residents for the same level of law enforcement. They say the extra charges would translate to surplus revenue for the county.
The County Council said in a previous statement to WTOC the charges would cover basic and additional services after the town ended an agreement with the county earlier this year. That’s after the county hired an economic consulting firm to “determine the true cost” of the services to Hilton Head.
The town of Hilton Head is moving forward with legal action against Beaufort County for its extra law-enforcement service fee. But in the meantime, they have created a website that will educate Hilton Head residents on how much they will be paying.
“I have seen the draft complaint and so it is in the process of moving forward to be filed,” said Assistant Town Manager Josh Gruber.
The town argues Hilton Head does not get any more service and law enforcement protection than the rest of the county. The sheriff agrees.
“The big picture is we provide service to all of our citizens in county," says Sheriff Tanner. "No difference based on geographic location within the county.”
The town says the legal action needs to be quick.
“The primary reason why the action is being filed is to ensure the fee that the county is looking to collect does not get put on the tax bill,” says Town Manager Josh Gruber.
They say if it is put on this year’s tax bill, getting that money back to residents would be very difficult. The sheriff says no matter what happens, residents will still be covered by law enforcement.
“We are not changing the way we do things based on a difference of opinion between the town of Hilton Head and the county of Beaufort,” he said.
The town launched a website they say is supposed to educate Hilton head residents.
“Because they are already paying so much to the county in form of annual property taxes, that these services that are being provided should be paid for out of those funds, rather than an additional fee on top of the taxes that they are already paying,” said Gruber.
The town says they hope educating the public will leave the county to re-open negotiation.