Homeowners complain about road improvement price tag

A battle is underway over road improvement in the Hidden Woods subdivision near Socastee.

Horry County Council is set to vote Tuesday on a bond issue to pay for new roads in the Hidden Woods community.

But some homeowners there claim they were misled by the homeowners association about the extent of the road work and say their property taxes are going through the roof to pay for it.

Tom Gibson says his taxes will double over the next 15 years to help pay for the $850,000 project.

"I was paying less than $500 before this tax district. Now, I'm paying over $1,000," Gibson said.

Gibson says the subdivision's roads are not in critical condition.

"There is some road work that needs to be done, but it can be done in a more economical manner."

Horry County created a special tax district for Hidden Woods to collect revenue from its homeowners and pay off general obligation bonds that will fund the road project.

The county held a referendum to get approval from homeowners to create the tax district, but Gibson and other homeowners say that vote wasn't representative of the whole community of more than 150 homes.

"Thirty three homes, if you add up the votes, that's all it was," said homeowner John Liberto. "Out of 158, because people were voting 3 and 4 per household."

Liberto claims some people who voted were renters who don't pay property taxes.

Others say there's no need for a county tax district, that the homeowners association should just repair the roads itself.

"Taking the fees and dues they already receive in abundance and then use them accordingly to fix the roads," said Jerry Hunt. "There's not a whole lot that needs to be done in the neighborhood."

But HOA board member and commissioner for the tax district Marvin Heyd says 80 percent of homeowners - and no renters - approved the referendum.

He says the roads in the subdivision, built in 1988, are badly in need of a makeover and having the HOA fix the roads itself would end up costing more in the long run.

"If we take that approach, then it would take us 5 to 6 years, which means instead of $800,000 it would cost us over $2 to 3 million because of construction costs," Heyd said.

The disgruntled homeowners hope to convince county council to defeat the bond issue and repeal the tax district. They say they have more than 90 signatures on a petition opposing the project.