Monday, March 24, 2008

More Atlantic Beach Problems

Once again, the other cities and taxpayers are expected to pay this town's expenses and pick up the tab for "history"...

AB's mayor, salaries out
Charges at top sink in as town left in limbo
Posted on Sat, Mar. 22, 2008
By Kurt Knapek and Lorena Anderson -
kknapek@thesunnews.com
landerson@thesunnews.com

Gov. Mark Sanford issued the order after Thursday's indictment of Irene Armstrong on bribery and misconduct charges. The town manager, Marcia Conner, was indicted on misconduct charges. Neither woman was available for comment Friday.

City workers - including the five-member police force - did not receive paychecks as scheduled Friday, and the acting police chief said he will look to Horry County law enforcement to protect Atlantic Beach, at least for this weekend.

"I'm not even sure I'm going to work," said Capt. Randy Rizzo. "I, too, have bills, and we cannot have employees working for free. They missed payroll, and the funds are not there."

Mixed responses
Reaction to the indictments ranged from sad resignation to a commitment to move past the current problems.

"No, I'm not surprised," said oceanfront property owner David O'Connell.
"I think it's a shame, but change will be the best thing in the world for Atlantic Beach."

Sanford's executive order read

"I hereby suspend Irene Evans Armstrong from the office of Mayor of Atlantic Beach until such a time that she shall formally be acquitted or convicted."

"We're letting the legal system take its course, but it's not something we're proud of right now," said Councilman Donnell Thompson. "We're trying to move the town forward. We're in a crisis right now."

The four remaining council members couldn't resolve their dispute Friday on how to pay the police force. Retha Pierce and Thompson said they were in favor of paying the force, Mayor Pro Tem Charlene Taylor and Councilman Jake Evans refused to approve the spending.

"We need to make sure we have police protection," Pierce said. "We want the town to move forward and keep doors open and not shut things down."

Taylor and Evans would not comment.
"I need to hear from my lawyer," Taylor said. (HAHA!)

The whole situation is up in the air now, and Rizzo said he has no idea what might happen.
"It's going to be interesting," he said.

Resident Paul Curry said he wasn't surprised. Curry is suing the town, alleging officials have refused to notify him of public meetings - which state law requires - despite his requests.

"These are merely allegations, and I hope she is treated fairly in court," Curry said of Armstrong, "but that said, I think there is truth to these charges."

Disputed electionArmstrong lost the mayoral election in November by one vote to Pierce, but appealed the election, which allowed her to hold her seat until the matter is settled. A circuit court judge is expected to decide next week whether Atlantic Beach should hold its mayoral election again.

Pierce said Friday she's unsure how Armstrong's indictment will affect Judge J. Michael Baxley's ruling on the election.

"We're awaiting some information at this point," she said.

Pierce has her own legal issues to tend to after being charged with resisting arrest on Christmas night after a traffic stop. She told the officer she needed to use the bathroom, got out of her car and started to walk toward a nearby hotel.

"I'm not worried about that," Pierce said. "I'm not guilty of resisting arrest. I just wanted to use the restroom. I want us to get through this. I want us to keep a positive outlook and try to work together to move forward."

Conner, 50, faces two counts of misconduct in office and one count of violating an employer's obligations to police retirement funds.

Conner previously served as the city manager in Durham, N.C., where she resigned after council members there became increasingly dissatisfied about her tenure, which included two failed searches for a police chief and problems with project oversight and spending delays in the city housing department.

What's nextArmstrong and Conner have until Monday to turn themselves in to authorities at J. Reuben Long Detention Center or the State Law Enforcement Division will issue arrest warrants.

The women police say accepted the bribes from Armstrong will not be charged, 15th Judicial Court Solicitor Greg Hembree said.

"They came forward and fully cooperated," Hembree said. "Had they not, we would not have been charging the others. The offering of the bribe is the more serious offense. I wouldn't want to punish those who are doing the right thing."

Councilman Thompson said he "feels comfortable" the annual Memorial Day Bike Fest, a source of revenue for the city, will go on as planned May 23-26.

"I think things will be worked out by then," Thompson said.

So What's the Latest Atlantic Beach Scourge?

Atlantic Beach's excuse for a mayorWell, the dirty soap opera that is Atlantic Beach and its mayor continues. Here's the latest on her recent arrest. It appears she stirred up alot more than her penchant for thinking she can tell the police what to do.

I would be happier if the Sun News would be very explicit to let people know that Atlantic Beach is NOT A PART OF NORTH MYRTLE BEACH!!

NMB has an outstanding government and its officials and police department are the best in the state as far as I'm concerned. It sickens me to think this can taint the reputation of such a beautiful beach town. We have NOTHING to do with what goes on in this town.

Please see the Atlantic Beach Website so you can better understand the dynamics here!
See the Original Posting of the Mayor being arrested.

Governor suspends indicted Atlantic Beach mayorThursday, Mar 20, 2008 - 08:11 PM Updated: 04:14 PM

Thursday afternoon, the 15th Circuit solicitor's office released an Horry County Grand Jury's verdict charging the Atlantic Beach mayor, Irene Armstrong, and town manager, Marcia Conner, with a list of crimes.

Friday morning, Governor Mark Sanford signed an executive order suspending the three-term mayor from office, according to the governor's press secretary, Joel Sawyer.

The indictments are a result of an investigation into the town's finances, according to the solicitor's office release.

Armstrong faces three counts of bribery of elections and two counts of misconduct in office.
Town manager Conner faces two counts of misconduct in office and one count of violation of Employer's Obligation to the Police Retirement Fund.

The indictment claims Armstrong bribed three voters in the town's November elections by paying the three for votes.

Agents charge that on election day, Armstrong paid Monique E. Pointer of Atlantic Beach $20 for her vote in the mayoral election, and another $20 for Pointer's vote for councilman, Jake Evans, Armstrong's brother.

The indictment also claims Armstrong bought another vote for herself from Rose Marie Lambert for $10 in the mayoral election.

Armstrong lost the November mayoral election by one vote to councilwoman Retha Pierce, but appealed for a new election.

A circuit court judge heard arguments Monday from Pierce and Armstrong, but did not make a decision in the case as to whether or not to uphold the town's election commission's decision to hold a new election.

Armstrong faces two counts of misconduct in office stemming from illegally transferring town money from the town's pending drug seizure account into the town's general fund account, which the indictment states is a violation of state law.

The second count against Armstrong deals with the illegal transfer of the town's municipal court account into the town's general fund.

Two of the three charges against town manager Conner include illegal transfer of money between the same accounts charged against Armstrong; the third charge agents claim Conner collected retirement fund money from the town's police officers, transferred that money into the town's general fund, then used that money to pay for other services.

The indictment alleges the crimes of misconduct happened between April 9, 2006 and May 2, 2007.

State Law Enforcement Division agents took several financial documents from Atlantic Beach town hall back in July of 2007, but SLED would not release any details about what agents took, or why agents are investigating.

News13 checked with SLED Thursday and agents said the July 2007 investigation remained open and active.

If convicted, mayor Armstrong faces up to 35 years in prison, and Conner faces up to 30 years behind bars if a jury finds her guilty.

Town council members Retha Pierce and Donnell Thompson changed the locks on town hall this afternoon to keep Armstrong and Conner from entering the building.

Governor Mark Sanford issued a statement Thursday evening through his press office,

"We have not reviewed the indictment in detail, but based upon what we understand about the charges, we have every reason to believe we would suspend the mayor once our office reviews the indictment."

SLED agents allowed the pair to surrender themselves to authorities sometime early next week.
##

***This story is so dirty that I won't even put links in it to our websites.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

1031 Exchange Makes the News in Myrtle Beach

The below article in the Sun News was taken from an articale originally done by myself as a press release about 1031 Exchanges on PRWeb. It was done as an adjunct to our 1031 Tax Exchange website called 1031Commercial.com. I noted most of the exact information in my press release as to owners wanting to use their investment condos and real estate for personal vacations and how the IRS was now specifically going to allow it.

Today, the article below appeared in the Sun News, and to add insult to injury, the auther actually telephoned David O'Connell, whose number and reference was in my original press release, and spent a good bit of his time answering her questions about 1031's and the IRS regulations, as well as the differences in using Myrtle Beach real estate to save capital gains taxes.

Not only was no credit given to the original article, which was taken from a similar but generic mention in Forbes Magazine, but the author of the Sun News article didn't give any mention to her conversations with David, his insight and knowledge about 1031's or even a link to his website.

I feel rather offended by this, and wanted it to be known.

Here is the Sun News Article that I feel was offensively done without giving just due to the both of us.

Posted on Wed, Mar. 12, 2008
Tax break available for some investors
JESSICA FOSTER

Real estate investors looking for ways to dodge taxes on capital gains have clearer guidelines as to whether they qualify for a popular tax break.

Many Myrtle Beach investors buy condos and houses in hopes of spending some vacation time in the property - a move that might have disqualified them from a tax-free 1031 exchange before this week.

Now, they still qualify if they vacation there for up to 14 days or no more than 10 percent of the number of days the unit is rented out, according to an Internal Revenue Service bulletin.

That could be a plus for the investor-heavy coast, said Tom Maeser, market analyst for the Coastal Carolinas Association of Realtors. The exchange, made possible through Section 1031 of the tax code, lets people swap their property for a new one without being taxed on the gains as long as the property is used for investment or business. The personal use rules mean real estate buyers don't have to wonder whether they're eligible for the exchange if they vacation in their investment property for a few days.

"You never knew whether you were going to be in trouble or not because they never spelled it out very clearly," Maeser said. "So many of our investors now are going from the old flippers to the baby boomers that are buying second homes now and will put them in a rental program. This just gives them a lot more assurance that they're not going to be challenged by the IRS."

The change comes after a recent U.S. Tax Court case, Moore v. Commissioner, in which taxpayers tried to do an exchange on two properties they used solely for personal purposes.
They said the properties should qualify as investments because the values were expected to appreciate.
The court ruled that the "mere hope or expectation that property may be sold at a gain cannot establish an investment intent if the taxpayer uses the property as a residence."

Other than being an investment property, there are additional requirements for the exchange: the investor has 45 days to identify potential replacement properties and the exchange must be done within 180 days. A qualified intermediary also has to be used.

Buyers should also keep in mind that the exchange only defers paying the taxes until the property is sold. "Unless you're lucky enough to die before you sell it, you're not saving the tax, you're deferring the tax," said Myrtle Beach attorney and CPA Tone Trask.

That could mean that investors pay more in taxes if the federal tax rate rises from its current 15 percent on capital gains.

Though some Realtors say 1031 exchanges are relatively common among local investors, Trask said he hasn't done many in recent years because of the market downturn.
###

Friday, March 07, 2008

$100K More to live at the North Pole instead of Myrtle Beach

CNN Money had an article that showed Coldwell Banker's annual Home Price Comparison Index, which compared selling prices of similar homes in similar neighborhoods of different states and markets.

It was an interesting comparison to see, and very surprising to find some areas (such as Alaska - ACK!) that were incredibly expensive, while considered almost undesirable. Here's a sampling of the areas and prices they gave. I was also rather surprised to find that Myrtle Beach real estate was definitely in the low to middle range of pricing, and in fact, quite a bit lower than Charleston.
We are way lower than most of Florida, and I think condos for sale in Myrtle Beach as versus Miami would bear that out. But ALASKA????????? Come on!

Other surprises include Fairfield, CT, Boston, and Maryland. Wow. It really costs alot to freeze to death! Makes me very happy to be right where I am.

The criteria was a 2200 sq ft house with 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, a family room, and 2-car garage. The neighborhood is described as "typical for corporate middle-management transferees".


City-----------------Avg Price of homeHuntsville, AL................$194,466

Juneau, AK ................$443,000

Little Rock, AR..... ........$181,395

Tucson, AZ ...................$250,833
Phoenix, AZ ..................$295,334
Scottsdale, AZ ..............$478,833

San Diego, CA .............$627,938
San Fransisco, CA ..$1,300,000
Beverly Hills, CA ......$1,656,500

Colorado Springs, CO ..$211,667
Denver, CO ....................$336,433

Torrington, CT ..............$233,331
Fairfield, CT ...................$737,738

Washington, DC .............$727,250

Pensacola, FL ...............$222,258
Orlando, FL .....................$312,000
Daytona Beach, FL ........$349,650
Sarasota, FL ...................$387,375
Boca Raton, FL ...............$521,412
Key West, FL .................$949,375

Macon, GA .......................$167,850
Atlanta, GA .......................$303,000

Honolulu, HI .......................$737,625
Des Moines, IA .................$247,000

Boise, ID ...........................$213,808

Springfield, IL .................$205,950
Naperville, IL .....................$346,250
Chicago, IL ......................$815,000

South Bend, IN ..................$173,600
Munster, IN .........................$329,300

Wichita, KS ........................$151,275
Lawrence, KS ....................$237,237

Louisville, KY .....................$243,634

Shreveport, LA ..................$210,250

Springfield, MA .................$389,283
Boston, MA ....................$1,260,000

Hagerstown, MD ............$283,175
Baltimore, MD ..................$513,425
Bethesda, MD .................$829,750

Bangor, ME .......................$253,750

Grayling, MI ........................$149,600
Ann Arbor, MI .....................$346,250

Rochester, MN ...................$217,675
Minneapolis, ................MN $397,133

St Louis, MO .......................$254,700
Tupelo, MS ..........................$163,485

Helena, MT ..........................$177,950

Greensboro, NC ...............$181,166
Charlotte, NC ....................$204,336
Wilmington, NC ................$286,650

Bismarck, ND .....................$171,438

Norfolk, NE .........................$176,450

Turnersville, NJ ...............$257,385
Clinton, NJ ..........................$527,700
Madison, NJ .......................$677,250
Ridgewood, NJ ...............$829,500

Albuquerque, NM ...........$243,034
Santa Fe, NM ...................$511,026

Las Vegas, NV .................$359,500

Binghamton, NY .............$152,875
Rochester, NY ...................$256,333
Long Island, NY .................$584,497
Queens, NY .......................$701,000
Rye, NY .............................$869,125

Cincinnati, OH ...................$244,250

Oklahoma City, OK ...........$185,000

Eugene, OR ......................$327,000

Erie, PA ............................$193,975
Harrisburg, PA .................$276,566
Philadelphia, PA ............$574,567

Columbia, SC .................$190,058
Myrtle Beach, SC ..........$191,584
Charleston, SC ..............$307,400

Sioux Falls, SD ................$171,470

Nashville, TN .....................$209,300

Arlington, TX .....................$139,510
Dallas, TX .........................$261,325

Salt Lake City, UT ............$262,117

Roanoke, VA ...................$220,942
Virginia Beach, VA ..........$334,425
Alexandria City, VA .......$776,399

Burlington, VT ..................$338,750

Spokane, WA .................$238,418
Seattle, WA ......................$386,600
Bellevue, WA ..................$566,330

Eau Claire, WI ..................$164,225
Milwaukee, WI ..................$331,000

Charleston, WV ................$179,050
Would you pay $400K for this house in Alaska?