CORRECTION: The date for the December COVAR meeting was incorrectly reported. The meeting will be held on Saturday, December 9th.
Council of Villa Associations and Regimes Information for Villa Owners
This is the second in a series of articles covering the history and role/contributions of villa associations and regimes within the Town of Seabrook Island (Town). The first article, published in July, covered the history of villa associations/regimes within the Town. This article will focus on their role/contributions with respect to the Town. It is based upon research contributed by the respective staffs of, among others, the Town, Seabrook Island Property Owners Association (SIPOA), Seabrook Island Club/Seabrook Island Real Estate (SIC/SIRE) and Coastal Getaways of South Carolina (Coastal Getaways). Data provided in this article is approximate, due to the inability to break down certain Town revenue items between villas and single-family homes, but is valid as to the relative contributions of villas to the Town.
There are 41 villa associations/regimes within the Town. As of October 16, 52% of the residential units within the Town were villas–1,184 villas (1114 of which were within SIPOA [excludes Bohicket Marina Village’s 70 units]) vs. 1,090 single family homes. Villas constituted approximately 75% of the rental properties within the Town based upon SIC/SIRE and Coastal Getaways data.
Rental villas contribute significantly to Town revenues principally through Class 7 Business License and Accommodations Tax (ATAX) payments (of the latter, 30% goes to the Charleston Area Convention & Visitor’s Bureau for advertising; 65% is spent by the Town for tourism-related activities and 5% goes to the Town’s General Fund). Please note that, as stated in COVAR Publication #2, “License and Tax Obligations for Villa Rentals,” “… license/tax requirements apply if you (1) rent exclusively through an agency, but it does not assume responsibility for specified license and tax obligations, (2) rent both through an agency and on your own or (3) rent exclusively on your own.” As of June 6, rental properties had contributed $53,794 based upon income reported for 2016. Based upon the above-cited percentage of rental properties that are villas, it is fair to assume that the great majority of the rental income and tax fees based upon them are contributed by rental villas. The same is true for the ATAX payments that the Town received from the State ($148,713) and County ($53,651) in 2016. Other, less quantifiable, contributions to Town revenues include various types of permit fees, which the Town assesses.
Other contributions by villa owners include service on Town committees, commissions and boards. While the value of these contributions cannot be quantified, they are assuredly critical to Town governance and the welfare of both resident and nonresident owners. Over the years, the COVAR Board, on behalf of villa and other property owners, has also made significant contributions to Town governance and the welfare of not only property owners, but also guests and renters. The most significant of which was its significant contribution to the revision of the Town’s Waterways and Beaches Ordinance in 2015.
Through the contributions outlined, above, villa owners, whether resident or nonresident, play a very significant role in the Town of Seabrook Island. They contribute not only to its financial well-being, but, also, to its governance. Both types of contributions serve to ensure the Town’s financial stability, as well as its continued livability, benefitting all owners (resident or nonresident) guests and renters.
In closing, it should be noted that the COVAR Board currently plans on conducting a meet the SIPOA Board Candidates program during its December 11 Meeting, as well as presenting the COVAR Communications program.
Finally, just a reminder that current versions of all five COVAR Publications (“Exterior Alterations and Improvements,” “License and Tax Obligations,” “Rules Guests Need to Know,” “Beaches” and “Seabrook Island Villa Survey (2014”) are available upon request to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. It should also be noted that current versions of “License and Tax Obligations,” “Rules Guests Need to Know” and “Beaches” can be read on and/or downloaded from the SIPOA Website by logging onto the Owners Homepage, selecting “MINUTES & ARCHIVE”, then selecting “COVAR” and finally selecting the desired document.
-Submitted by Allan Keener