CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- In addition to electing new local leaders, voters in Charleston, Isle of Palms, and James Island were faced with referendum questions on the ballot Tuesday.
Here’s what they decided:
City of Charleston Parks Bond
Voters overwhelmingly approved a plan to make capital improvements and renovations at parks and recreation facilities across the City of Charleston.
The $70 million bond referendum passed by a margin of 80 percent to 20 percent, according to unofficial results from the South Carolina Election Commission.
The referendum will fund upgrades to W.L. Stephens Aquatic Center at Forest Park in West Ashley, construction of a new recreation center and aquatics facility on Johns Island, and renovations to McMahon Playground and Corrine Jones Playground on the peninsula, among other projects.
The changes are part of the Charleston Parks and Recreation Master Plan, which was approved in 2021, and will occur over a 10-year period.
According to officials, taxpayers will see a roughly 2% millage increase on property taxes to pay off the bond.
Town of James Island Council Expansion
Voters living on James Island were asked to decide on a measure that would change the town council from a four-member governing body to a six-member governing body.
The measure was approved by a wide margin with roughly 66 percent of voters voting in favor of the expansion, according to unofficial results.
The two additional positions will be filled during the next municipal election in November 2025.
City of Isle of Palms Short Term Rental Cap
Isle of Palms voters rejected a measure Tuesday that would limited short-term rentals on the island.
The referendum was placed on the ballot after city council received a petition signed by more than 1,200 residents calling for the adoption of an ordinance that capped the number of short-term rental licenses to 1,600 for non-primary residents.
Unofficial results show voters rejected the measure by a slim margin of 54.5 percent to 45.5 percent.
Those were against the ordinance, like councilman Blair Hahn, argued a cap on short-term rentals could lead to a tax hike for residents as many amenities offered by the town are largely paid for by vacation rentals.
“95% of Isle of Palms annual budget is paid for by vacation rentals, only 5% is paid for by permanent residents,” Hahn said last month.
Opponents also argued that a cap could push away buyers looking for an investment property and cause property values to decrease.
Proponents of the referendum, however, argued that a cap was needed to preserve quality of life for full-time residents on the island.
“People live here, people have jobs, people go to work, people have to get up at 5-6 o’clock in the morning for their jobs. And when the house next door to them is a short term rental, and they’re making noise until midnight, what’s that say that they actually care about people that live here? Not much,” resident Brian Duffy told News 2.