Scott Mooneyham: Border study creates a state of uncertainty
RALEIGH — It is no laughing matter.
Well, actually, it is, if you don’t happen to be one of the roughly 100 property owners who could find themselves suddenly designated as living in a state other than the one in which they believed they had lived.
Those property owners live along the North Carolina-South Carolina border, and an 18-year effort to use modern technology to properly mark the boundary is now expected to be completed next spring.
That proper boundary, based on longitude and latitude lines set in 1700s, isn’t where some people grew up believing it is.
So, some Tar Heels could suddenly become Sandlappers, and vice versa.
Officials from both states say it is important to establish exactly where the 344-mile line really falls, and that redrawing the original line would be expensive and require an act of Congress.
Once the real line is established, the states are planning on grandfathering affected property owners when it comes to where children attend schools, back taxes owed and perhaps utility services.
That doesn’t mean there won’t be upheaval. The owner of a store near Lake Wylie, who may find his store moving from South Carolina to North Carolina, told the Associated Press earlier this year that the change could shut him down.
He noted that higher gas prices in North Carolina, created by higher gas taxes, mean that more motorists will keep on driving to stores farther down the road.
Even if affected property owners aren’t forced to re-calculate past property tax bills, those property taxes will change based on different rates in their newly assigned counties.
That’s the bad news for those folks.
Perhaps they can take some solace from other changes coming to their lives.
Here are a few that immediately come to mind:
n For those former South Carolinians who find themselves living in North Carolina, they can now claim Scotty McCreery and Clay Aiken as favorite sons. For former North Carolinians who find themselves living in South Carolina, they will no longer have to do the same.
n For the new North Carolina residents, changing allegiance to UNC or Duke will mean laying claim to superiority on the basketball court. By ending an allegiance to Clemson or the University of South Carolina, those same folks can stop pretending that their team actually has a shot at winning a national championship in football and that Alabama wouldn’t beat them silly on any given Saturday.
n Everyone involved can still argue over whether Charlotte belongs in North Carolina or South Carolina, but from a completely new perspective.
n Thanks to Pat McCrory’s election, no one in either state or of either political party will be forced to make major adjustments in their attitudes about the governorship and state legislature, as each in both states are now held or controlled by Republicans.
Even better, both states enjoy similar divisions when it comes to eastern- and western-style barbecue, although there are those weird mustard lovers in central South Carolina.
Scott Mooneyham writes about state government for Capitol Press Association.