Friday, October 24, 2014

Facts about the Penny Sales Tax Referendum for Roads in Greenville County

Your Home Builders Association is in support of the referendum on the Penny Sales Tax for Roads in Greenville County.  The Board of Directors supports the referendum because it is a broad-based funding solution for a problem in our county that affects everyone.  More specifically, however, it impacts home builders.  During the last year, local governments have denied approvals to several new subdivisions because of traffic concerns.  Our county's inadequate roads do affect home builders and will continue to if a solution is not found to repair our roads. 

Below are some facts about the referendum from Citizens for a Better Greenville, a coalition your Home Builders Association joined to support the referendum question:

"County Council can change the list of projects to whatever it wants."
This is false. This comes from a very erroneous reading of the ordinance. The County Council operates on a 2-year budget, so every two years of the 8-year lifetime of the tax, the Council will have to approve a list of projects. The current Council cannot bind the next Council. But, the ordinance goes on to say that the language "shall not" mean the Council can deviate from the detailed list of projects approved by the voters.  It only means that the next Council can set priorities from within the project list approved by the voters.

"The state has the money to repair the roads."
This is false. If you drive 15,000 miles a year, and get 20 miles per gallon, you pay enough gas tax to pave 7 feet of road.  Our state has 216 million feet of state road. The state's plan for roads, based on current funding, has resulted in 70 percent of our roads receiving a rating of "poor," and at the current rate, some Greenville County roads will not be repaved until 2097. Clearly, the existing gasoline tax and other funding for our roads is not enough.

"Only 4 cents out of the 16 cents in gas tax returns to Greenville County."
This is false. The numbers do not lie, but the opposition does.  From 2002 until 2011, drivers bought 2.2 billion gallons of gasoline in Greenville County, and paid $353 million in taxes on that gas. Greenville County received $567 million in funded road projects from the Department of Transportation. We actually received 27 cents in projects for every 16 cents in gas tax Greenville County sent to Columbia.  This rumor is rooted in the fact that 4 cents of the 16-cent gasoline tax is dedicated to a program for maintenance of county- and locally-maintained roads.  However, only 30 percent of all roads in the state are maintained by counties or cities.  The rest are maintained by the state.  It is only fair for the state to receive the largest portion of the gasoline tax that drivers pay.  Even so, the state spends their funds where the needs exist.  The fact that Greenville County has received a larger share than it contributed speaks to the need to repair and maintain our county's roads.

"It will be a $300 tax burden on Greenville families."
This is false. According to Clemson University, it will cost an additional $119 per household. To cost an additional $300 per year, a family would have to spend $30,000 a year purchasing taxable items. The average household income in Greenville County is only $42,000. That claim is patently ridiculous, since most of our income goes to housing, electricity, water, gasoline, and other items not subject to the sales tax.

"Not all of the money will be spent in Greenville County."
A shred of truth. It makes for a nice talking point, but only a tiny fraction of the money collected will be held at the Department of Revenue as a fee for the service of collecting the tax and remitting it to the county. More than 99 percent of the money will flow through the Department of Revenue, the agency that collects sales tax, and sent to a special account at Greenville County.

"This will cost Greenville County taxpayers $65 million a year."
This is false. Clemson University and other researchers have studied whom will pay the tax.  Their research shows that as much as 30 percent of the revenue will come from people who live outside our County. And the average annual cost of the tax will be about $8 million per year.  What really costs Greenville County taxpayers is the more than $250 a year that DOT estimates we spend in maintenance on our cars due to poor road conditions.

"This tax will apply to groceries."
This is true, for now.  When County Council approved the referendum, it selected a method that restricts the collection and use of the tax proceeds and binds future Councils to the decision made by the voters on November 4, if they approve the referendum.  County Council modeled the program based on NOT taxing groceries.  Unfortunately, it did not become apparent until later that the method selected requires that the tax be collected on groceries, a holdover from an era when the statewide sales tax did apply to groceries.  County Council, the Greenville County Legislative Delegation, and Citizens for a Better Greenville have all committed to seek legislation when the General Assembly returns in January to exempt groceries from the proposed one-cent sales tax.  The effective date of the sales tax, if approved by the voters, is not until May 1.  So there is plenty of time to change the law.

2014 HBA of Greenville Clay Tournament

It was a great day out on the course..the Clay Course that is. Eight teams participated in the 2014 HBA Clay Tournament at Clinton House Plantation on Friday, October 10th. GBS Building Supply and Piedmont Natural Gas were the presenting sponsors of the tournament.
Registration begun at 11:30 with lunch served shortly after, the teams then headed out on the 14 stand course to shoot 100 rounds. Fun was had by all and some really great prizes were awarded too including a 40in Flat screen TV courtesy of Jeff Lynch Appliance and TV Center, Black and Decker Drill courtesy of The Southern Home and Garden Show.
            
1st PlaceTeam- ProSource, LLC

















2nd Place Team- Stock Building Supply
















3rd Place Team- Piedmont Natural Gas
(2 of the players from the winning team)














Other awards included:
 Longest String- Michael Dey
&
Best Individual High Score- Robert Hammett

Thank you to sponsors Piedmont Natural Gas and GBS Building Supply 

With
Stand Sponsors: Jeff Lynch, Prosource, and Gallery of Lighting



Thursday, October 23, 2014

Call to Action: Want Your Voice Heard? Join An HBA Committee

Want your voice heard? Want to help make your association better, smarter, more relevant? Join a Home Builders Association Committee.

Want to know more about our committees? Click here to review our committee list and download job descriptions.

Want to volunteer? Simply email Michael Dey at mdey@hbaofgreenville.com and state your committee preference.

Don't want to serve on a committee but still want to volunteer? Send Michael an email with your areas of interest. The board forms task forces on a regular basis that handles a specific task and then disbands. Your association will be grateful for your help.

1 Million Homes: It’s a Good Start


For the third time this year, nationwide housing starts surpassed the million-mark, according to newly released figures from the HUD and the U.S. Census Bureau. Total housing production in September rose 6.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.017 million units.

“These numbers show starts returning to levels we saw earlier this summer, where they hovered around one million units,” said Kevin Kelly, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders. “We are hopeful this pattern of modest growth will continue as we close out the year.”

“September’s uptick reveals that last month’s dip in production was more of an anomaly than a market reversal,” said David Crowe, chief economist of the National Association of Home Builders. “I expect we will see a continued recovery as job creation grows and consumers gain more confidence in the housing market.”

Single-family housing starts were up 1.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 646,000 units in August, while multifamily production climbed 16.7 percent to 371,000 units.

Combined housing starts increased in all regions of the country. The Northeast, Midwest, South and West posted respective gains of 5.3 percent, 3.5 percent, 4.2percent and 13.9 percent.

Issuance of building permits registered a 1.5 percent gain to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.018 million units in September. Multifamily permits rose 4.8 percent to 394,000 units while single-family permits decreased 0.5 percent to 624,000 units.

Regionally, the Northeast, Midwest, and West registered overall permit increases of 12.3 percent, 8.2 percent and 5.9 percent, respectively. The South posted a 4.7 percent loss.

Regulators Act to Loosen Tight Credit Spigot, Boost Home Sales

After years of lobbying by your Home Builders Association, the Association of Realtors, and the Mortgage Bankers Association, federal regulators have finally agreed to make changes to financial institution regulations that will boost the availability of mortgage credit for home buyers.

U.S. financial regulators this week announced separate actions that should boost the housing market and home sales by enabling more creditworthy borrowers to access home loans.

Six federal regulators finalized new rules under the Dodd-Frank Act which define the standards of a qualified residential mortgage. The final rule exempts securitizers from retaining five percent of the credit risk on qualifying home loans packaged and sold as securities. "That five percent retention, as it is known, was a key to financial institutions using much tighter underwriting standards on federally-secured loans than the standards required by the regulators themselves," Michael Dey, Executive Vice President of the Home Builders Association of Greenville, said.

By aligning the definitions of a qualified residential mortgage (QRM) and the qualified mortgage (QM), the standard lenders must follow to demonstrate they have determined a borrower’s ability to repay a mortgage loan, financial regulators have acted to alleviate confusion in the marketplace.

Since 2011, your Home Builders Association has worked independently and with a coalition of housing advocates to urge regulators to establish a QRM rule that removes downpayment requirements and other onerous underwriting criteria to keep homeownership affordable for working American families.

In an official statement, Kevin Kelly, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders, applauded regulators for taking these actions.

“The new QRM rule will encourage sound lending behaviors that support a housing recovery, attract private capital in the mortgage market, help ease tight credit conditions for borrowers, and reduce future defaults without punishing responsible borrowers and lenders,” Kelly said.


Click here to read the released from the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which regulates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Click here for an interesting article in USA Today about how unreasonably tight credit standards resulted in former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke being turned down for a mortgage. 

FHFA Director Announces Plans to Boost Credit
In another important development this week, Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mel Watt said that FHFA will announce new details in coming weeks that will specify when financial institutions must repurchase loans from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that were issued based on false or inaccurate information.

“I hope our actions provide sufficient certainty to enable your companies to reassess existing credit overlays and more aggressively make responsible loans available to creditworthy borrowers,” Watt said in an October 20 speech at the annual Mortgage Bankers Association conference in Las Vegas.

To further unlock tight credit, Watt also announced plans for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to lower their down payment requirements from five percent to as low as three percent.

Your HBA Honors and Thanks Our Top PAC Donors


On October 30 your HBA will honor and thank our top PAC donors with a dinner in their honor.  The dinner is hosted by Rick and Martha Quinn at their home in Travelers Rest.  Rick Quinn is Chairman of SC Builders PAC, the organization that facilitates your association's participation in the election process.

The members being honored for their contributions to the PAC in 2014 include:



Gold Hammer: $500 - $999
Bob Barreto, GBS Building Supply

Silver Hammer: $250 - $499
Terri Coulson-Wilkes, The Window Gal
Alan Boone, APB, Advanced Renovations
Mike Freeman, APB, GMB, ACA/Freewood Contracting
Rick Quinn, APB, Quinn-Satterfield
Michael Dey, Home Builders Association
Eric Hedrick, Cornerstone Contractors
Seabrook Marchant, The Marchant Company
Gus Rubio, APB, Gabriel Builders
Hal Dillard, APB, H. Dillard Company
Jon Statom, Palmetto Exterminators
Richard Powers, Piedmont Natural Gas
Jason Bergeron, APB, Bergeron Custom Homes


Please thank each of these industry leaders for their generous support of the PAC.  Also, please click here for a short one-minute video from Rick Quinn on why you should support the PAC.

It is not too late to make a contribution.  Contact Michael Dey at your Home Builders Association at 864-254-0133 or email him at mdey@hbaofgreenville.com.

Home Builders Association Builder Ballot

The right to vote is not only a privilege, it is a responsibility that each voter should take seriously.  Elections are how our country chooses the leaders who will represent our interests in the halls of government.

Your Home Builders Association has formed two Political Action Committees that raise money from our members, screens candidates, and makes contributions to the campaigns of the candidates that our Government Affairs Committee members and Board of Directors have determined will be represent the interests of the Home Building, Remodeling, Land Development, and Light Commercial Contracting industries.

Election day is Tuesday, November 4.  The polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.  If you are registered to vote, please plan to go to the polls.  Not registered to vote?  Why not?

Don't think your vote matters?  "A few years ago a few Home Builders in Dorchester County (Summerville) thought their vote did not matter," Michael Dey, Executive Vice President of the Home Builders Association, said.  "The chairman of Dorchester County Council, a member of the Home Builders Association, lost by just four votes," Dey said.  "He was replaced by a politician hostile to the interests of Home Builders, and the next four years were very difficult for that association," he said.  "The association knew of several members, who lived in the county, who did not vote in that election."  Yes, your vote does matter.

Builder Ballot
BuildPAC has contributed to the following candidates:
  • U.S. Senator: Senator Lindsay Graham (R)
  • U.S. Senator: Senator Tim Scott (R)
  • U.S. House District 3: Congressman Jeff Duncan (R)
  • U.S. House District 4: Congressman Trey Gowdy (R)
South Carolina Builders PAC has contributed to the following candidates:
  • Governor: Nikki Haley (R) 
  • Lt. Governor: Henry McMaster (R)
  • Attorney General: Alan Wilson (R)
  • S.C. House District 4: Rep. David Hiott (R)
  • S.C. House District 18: Rep. Tommy Stringer (R)
  • S.C. House District 19: Rep. Dwight Loftis (R)
  • S.C. House District 20: Rep. Dan Hamilton (R)
  • S.C. House District 21: Rep. Phyllis Henderson (R)
  • S.C. House District 24: Majority Leader Bruce Bannister (R)
  • Greenville County Council District 19: Vice Chairman Willis Meadows
Ballot Questions
There are three questions on the ballot on which S.C. Builders PAC and your Home Builders Association recommend that you vote YES:
  • One Cent Sales Tax for Roads in Greenville County: the PAC has contributed to a coalition supporting this effort and the Board of Directors recommends that you vote yes.  The rationale is that inadequate roads are holding back Home Building, limiting the ability of members to get new subdivisions approved.  The current time-line for improving our roads, based on current funding, is 83 years.  This eight-year tax is the best hope for the county to solve this problem.  Click here for more information.
  • Amendment 1, legalize raffled conducted by nonprofit organizations for charitable purposes: current law prohibits organizations like the Home Builders Association from using raffles for fundraising purposes.  If approved, the question would legalize raffles for nonprofit organizations.
  • Amendement 2, require the Governor to appoint the Adjutant General: the Adjutant General is the head of the state's National Guard, and is currently elected by popular vote, one of nine constitutional officers in our state. Rationale: the Governor should have the authority to appoint the person who runs the department he/she has the power to mobilize.
About the PACs
South Carolina Builders PAC is a partnership between the Home Builders Association of South Carolina, Home Builders Association of Greenville, and other local HBAs in South Carolina.  Its scope is local, statewide, and legislative races.

BuildPAC is a PAC organized under Federal Election Laws.  It's scope is Congressional races.  BuildPAC does not take a position on the Presidency.  BuildPAC is managed by the National Association of Home Builders.

The Government Affairs Committee surveys and interviews candidates and makes recommendations for supporting those candidates to the Home Builders Association of Greenville Board of Directors, which makes the final decision on local and legislative races. The S.C. Builders PAC Trustees determines contributions for statewide races, and the BuildPAC Trustees determines the contributions for Congressional races.