CHARLESTON, S.C. — Some mayors in the Lowcountry think U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford needs to pay more attention to national issues.
Sanford’s decision to speak out against a state tax break that could bring a Bass Pro Shops to North Charleston and against cutting down trees in the median of Interstate 26 has upset a couple of Lowcountry mayors. But Sanford told The Post and Courier of Charleston that it is not fair to ask him to stay quiet about issues that are important to him
“This is not some theoretical impact to those businesses, it’s real,” he said. On the tree cutting, Sanford points out he is a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure committee in the U.S. House.
State lawmakers made the tax break available in 2006 after overriding then-Gov. Sanford’s veto. The break allows large chain stores to keep half of the sales tax revenue generated for 15 years as long as the business makes a $25 million investment and draws 35 percent of its visitors from at least 50 miles away
North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey said Sanford should stick to doing his job in the U.S. House and is probably upset that no one listens to him in Washington.
“I think he is intervening in a state issue where he should be intervening in federal issues, where nothing is getting done,” Summey said.
Sanford also is against cutting down the trees in the I-26 median northwest of Charleston because he thinks the trees provide a nice gateway into the region. Summerville Mayor Bill Collins has joined others who say the trees are a safety risk. The mayor also points out the state is being offered a $5 million federal grant and it might cost more to cut down the trees in the future if I-26 is widened.
“If he truly were a fiscal conservative, he’d want to think about that,” Collins said.