Property taxes going up

By Karen Kissiah

June 25, 2014

In a 5-4 vote, the Chesterfield County Council approved an 8 mill property tax increase Wednesday morning in order to balance a projected $800,000 deficit in next year’s budget.

The council also approved an ordinance to give voters the option in November to enact another 1-cent sales tax to improve infrastructure.

The 1-cent sales tax, if approved, would be collected over an eight-year period. It will cost the county $75,000 just to have the question placed on the November ballot. But it is estimated to generate about $21 million to be used for improvements to the county.

Councilman Douglas Curtis was the only one to vote against placing the sales tax question on the ballot.

Council Chairman Matt Rivers voted to approve the property tax millage increase, breaking a 4-4 deadlock. Voting for the millage increase were Lenora Powe, Frank Plyler, Robert Cole, Crawford Moore and Matt Rivers. Voting against the increase were Al Johnson, Eddie Rivers, Gerald Miller and Douglas Curtis.

The decisions were not made without debate, and even after the vote was cast, Councilman Eddie Rivers asked, “What did we do for our employees?”

“In this scenario, nothing,” said Matt Rivers.

“We have dedicated, hardworking employees in this county,” said Curtis. “And some of them are barely living above the poverty level.”

Matt Rivers suggested council members revisit the vote they had just made and increase property taxes by another mill to support employee salary increases for those making less than $30,000 a year.

There was no motion to revisit the vote.

Of the millage that was approved, 1.25 was designated for operations, and 6.75 to build the county’s reserve.

Councilman Crawford Moore, chairman of the finance committee, had recommended the millage increase.

“In order to move away from TAN, we’ve got to put some money in reserve,” he said.

Councilman Eddie Rivers tried to convince fellow council members to revisit the budget for possible cuts. That did not happen either.

The list of possible projects, formed, prioritized and submitted by the Chesterfield County Capital Project Sales Tax Commission totals $25,632,262.

The list reads as follows:

1 - Chesterfield County Emergency Dispatch Center, $3,000,000.

2 - Northeastern Technical College instructional facility (matching funds), $2,000,000.

3 - Storm drainage improvements in Cheraw, $2,200,112.50.

4- Natural gas line extension from the town of Cheraw to the Carolinas Centre Industrial Park, $1,874,000.

5 -Chesterfield County drought project, $2,000,000.

6 - Wastewater system improvements along Elizabeth, Main, Lee, Baker and Maxton streets and several other locations in Jefferson, $1,275,000.

7 - McBee sanitary sewer system phase I, $1,510,000.

8 - Pageland Wastewater Treatment Plant expansion in Pageland, $4,000,000.

9 - Emergency services complex in Patrick, $820,000.

10 - Stormwater improvements between S.C. 109 and Deaton Street in Ruby, $140,000.

11 - Sidewalk improvements, phase I, in Mount Croghan, $142,900.

12 - Various road improvements for Harden Swamp Road, Cross Roads Church Road, S.C. 9, Moffat Road, Prestige Lane, McDonald Circle, McMillan Road and Tadlock Road, $2,000,000.

13 - Gymnasium for the town of Cheraw, $2,469,750.

14 - Water service line replacement for the town of Chesterfield, $2,200,500.

— Reach Staff Writer Karen Kissiah at 843-537-5261.