By Stan Welch
West Pelzer has taken several actions in a dispute which the mayors of both towns acknowledge is nothing new between Pelzer and West Pelzer. The dispute centers around the location of the 7-Eleven convenience store at the intersections of Highways 8 and 20. At issue is which town is entitled to the hospitality tax revenues generated by the sale of prepared foods at that location.
West Pelzer Mayor Blake Sanders told The Journal that the town has sent their neighbors a cease and desist letter in regards to Pelzer’s unannounced diversion of the tax revenues to their coffers, as well as a request for all documents and information related to Pelzer’s ‘massive’ annexation of property, according to Sanders. West Pelzer has also requested all correspondence between Pelzer and the 7-Eleven and/or its parent corporation. “We have also informed 7-11 and their parent corporation of our actions in reference to Pelzer, and the existing situation,” said Sanders.
West Pelzer has been collecting the approximately three hundred dollars a month in hospitality taxes since they enacted a hospitality tax. Mayor Sanders says that the town also provides infrastructure, such as utilities; and public services, such as the presence of the West Pelzer Police Department (WPPD) when legal or public safety incidents occur at the location.
“We have established a traditional and historical value for the revenues received. Frankly, we provide services that the town of Pelzer cannot. Our presence, our claim is both prior and well established.” Sanders said in an earlier interview.
Pelzer Mayor Will Ragland, also in a prior interview, acknowledged that prior to the extensive annexation of property by the town several years ago, the town’s limits probably didn’t extend that far. But after the annexation, Pelzer included the property up to the boundary between the two towns, according to Ragland.
Ragland says he approached Sanders and sought a clarification of the situation. According to Ragland, no satisfactory resolution was offered. “I just asked if they had annexed the location, which was sometimes heard to be the case. But it wasn’t. An agreement was apparently made between the town and the corporation during former mayor Peggy Paxton’s tenure, but no annexation took place.”
Ragland, after unsuccessfully seeking a clarification from West Pelzer, and after researching county maps that he says show the store in Pelzer town limits, but without notifying West Pelzer, instructed Cheryl Boudreau, the town clerk, to send a letter to the management of the 7-Eleven, informing them of his discovery and explaining that West Pelzer should no longer receive the monthly check for the taxes. Sanders says the first he knew of it was when the December tax check didn’t arrive.
It was that act that led to the cease and desist letter and subsequent actions by West Pelzer.