Beaufort Today -

Beaufort County budget proposes property tax hike

Beaufort County taxpayers may see an increase on their property tax bills.

The proposed $123 million county budget for fiscal year 2017-18 includes a millage rate increase of 2.2 mills. The value of mill has increased about 3 percent.

County Council passed the budget by title only, however, at its regular meeting May 8.

Information needed for final numbers was not yet available, Councilman Jerry Stewart noted. The school district budget was lacking a mill value. County officials also did not know how much the state will contribute to local schools.

The South Carolina House and Senate had differing dollar contribution amounts for local schools. Stewart said those numbers should be agreed on soon.

The school district’s proposed $10 million budget includes the maximum millage rate increase from 111.5 to 115.96 mills. The proposed increase is 4.46 mills, or about 4 percent.

County Councilman Brian Flewelling said there is no way he is voting to approve the school district budget as is.

“I have no intention for voting for the maximum allowable increase,” Flewelling said. “It sends the wrong message to the Legislature to fund on the backs of taxpayers.”

The proposed county budget includes step and merit pay increases for employees, an increase to retirement funds, and funds for replacement of IT infrastructure.

The county was scheduled to present the budget for a second reading Monday in Bluffton. The third and final reading is expected on June 12.

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