Utilities, taxes, and dues in West Ridge

1. Utility companies:

1.1 Electricity: Santee Cooper (residential rates)

Current rates (through March, 2025)

Proposed new rates to start April 1, 2025

Santee Cooper is proposing new rates starting April, 2025, that they say will, on average, increase residential customer bills by 8.7% and our streetlight lighting bill by 5%. Details about the new rates are available from Santee Cooper's Rate Study. The proposed rates are NOT just an inflation-like increase: the changes are much more complex, involving new rate classes and time-of-day peak usage charges.

Rate classes will include RG (Residential General) and REV (Residential Electic Vehicle).

Proposed new RG rates:

You need to understand: on-peak demand is NOT total kilowatt-hours (kWh) used during peak hours: it's the largest kWh draw over any 1-hour period during peak hours. So, if on one cold winter morning, your HVAC, water heater, refrigerator, stove, microwave, clothes dryer, hair dryer, and most of the lights are all on at about the same time, that single hour's usage will likely be your peak that month. The largest 1-hour draw determines your Demand Charge.

I've written a simple calculator that lets you plug in the numbers from your bills to see the effect of the new RG rates. Santee Cooper's web page has a fancier calculator.

Total kWh: , peak kW: , bill for May-August usage: ==> Change: $

If you're curious, here's the basic breakeven formula given a Demand Charge of $10.03:

* The summer kWh rate of 11.97 drops to 6.84, 5.13 cents/kWh lower. Breakeven is at {kWh used} / ($10.03 / $0.0513 = 195.516h). So, if you used 500 kWh, and your on-peak usage is 500 kWh / 195.516h = 2.557 kW or less, your bill under the new rates would be lower. If your on-peak usage is higher, you'd pay more.

* The non-summer kWh rate of 9.97 drops to 6.84, 3.13 cents/kWh lower. That puts breakeven at {kWh used} / ($10.03 / $0.0313 = 320.447h). So, if you used 900 kWh, and your on-peak usage is 900 kWh / 320.447h = 2.808 kW or less, your bill under the new rates would be lower. If your on-peak usage is higher, you'd pay more.

Proposed new RT (Residential Time-of-Use) rates:

You have the option of choosing RT rates instead of RG. Its Customer Charge will be the same $20/month, and its off-peak price the same 6.84 cents/kWh as RG. RT will have no On-peak Demand Charge. Instead, it has a higher on-peak Energy Charge of 31.39 cents/kWh, and "on-peak" is an hour longer (5-9 AM Nov-Mar and 3-7 PM Apr-Oct).

Proposed new REV (Residential Electric Vehicle) rates:

The Customer and Demand Charges will be the same as for RG. The Energy Charge would be lower, 4.18 cents/kWh, during "Super Off-Peak hours" (11 PM - 5 AM) and higher, 7.45 cents/kWh, the rest of the day.

1.2 Water: Grand Strand Water and Sewer Authority

1.3 Trash collection

No extra cost. Weekly trash collection is part of your HOA dues.

1.4 Landline phone, Internet, Cable TV: Horry Telephone Cooperative (HTC)

West Ridge is an HTC-exclusive enclave for landline telephone, cable TV, and cable Internet service. HTC has fiber to the home, not copper wires. Internet service enters the house as a standard Ethernet connection (no cable modem in your house needed) and currently (6/2024) speeds start at 500Mb/second. HTC Internet service includes a wireless router.

The HTC box on the side of the house converts signals and offers battery backup for telephone service (since it's a fiber line, not copper) but not for Internet or TV services.

Some people have DirectTV, Dish, 5G wireless, or other over-the-air services. With any Internet service, you, of course, have the option of subscribing to other (non-HTC) TV streaming services.

Like other phone companies (and unlike most cable companies), HTC's Internet service DOES allow servers, and, for an additional fee, you can get a static IP address.

In return for that exclusivity, the HOA gets a check from HTC each year for a portion of the money paid to HTC by us. This has generally been thousands of dollars a year.

As a co-op, HTC also returns to each customer each year a portion of what they paid HTC during the previous 12 months. The amount varies.

Bill pay: HTC does not charge a fee for paying your bill with credit card, but there is currently no option for automatic bill pay to a credit card.

Please visit HTC's website for their services and prices.

2. HOA dues

Dues are $120/month. Dues are the same for all.

3. Taxes

3.1 Property taxes

West Ridge is in Horry County, but outside the city limits of Conway, so we are not subject to Conway City taxes. County tax rates have 3 parts:

In addition to the tax itself, the tax bill has fees and credits. Expect a Stormwater Fee of around $50 - $100, depending mostly on lot size. Credits may include the School Tax Credit and the Homestead exemption (a senior discount).

The School Tax Credit (see Act 388 of 2006) is an exemption from the school operating millage on the total assessed value of your residential property. South Carolina law allows this exemption for taxpayers who own the home in which they reside and are claiming legal residence. This is an automatic exemption for homeowners who have been granted the 4% legal residence ratio.

If you rent out the property, you are also subject to personal property tax on the value of your contents in the house, and perhaps the hospitality tax on the rent.

The tax bill each year is based on the appraised value and the owner as of December 31 of the prior year (so 12/31/2022 for tax bills sent in September/October 2023).

Example: An owner-occupied home assessed at the end of 2022 at $200,000 would be taxed at $200,000 * 0.04 * 0.2162 = ~$1730. A School Tax Credit of ~$950 and, if you're eligible, a Homestead exemption of ~$200, would reduce the final bill for such homeowners to about $580. The Stormwater Fee would raise the bill to ~$650.

Reassessments of property values occur every few (5?) years country-wide. Unless the home has recently been sold, in which case the sale price is used, the assessed value is usually a bit under actual resale value so that people will be less likely to challenge the assessment.

3.2 Sales taxes

3.3 Income taxes

There are no local/municipal income taxes.

South Carolina has a graduated income tax that uses your Federal Taxable Income (FTI) (income after deductions), with adjustments.

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