Council denies school district's request for millage increase - - Columbia, South Carolina |

Council denies school district's request for millage increase

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Kershaw County Council sided with about half of the residents and business owners who voiced their opinions Tuesday night to not grant Kershaw County School District's request for a 4.7 millage increase.

Seventeen people spent more than an hour speaking at Council's Tuesday night meeting, which lasted almost three hours, with 10 individuals opposing the millage increase, while nine others felt it was necessary to grant the school district's request.

Councilman Tom Gardner made a motion following the public hearing to lower the millage request from 4.7 mills to 3 mills, and supporting Gardner were councilmen Stephen Smoak and Sammie Tucker Jr. However, the remaining Council felt like a millage increase was not the answer to the school district's funding problems. Instead, four other councilmen agreed that it is a General Assembly issue with six-year-old Act 388 that is suppose to relieve property tax owners and permits the Kershaw County School District to receive 6.9 mill operational increase.

Councilman Jimmy Jones encouraged the public to take this issue to their state leaders.

"Hold them accountable," Jones said.

The millage increase request came to Council during the summer months after the school district passed its budget, but was faced with last-minute state cuts. Currently, Kershaw County's millage for operations is 153.4 mills and for debt services their millage rate is 64.2 mills, which totals 217.6 mills.

Many of the opposing residents who spoke were business owners and homeowners who said their taxes continue to rise and have become hard to bear, especially in touch economic times.

Jenny Hernandez, a Kershaw County resident, spoke Tuesday night, explaining that necessities in life are more important than giving more money to the school district.

"You talk about the difference between giving a child an education and having food, I think that's a big difference because that's one of the basic needs of life," Hernandez said, adding at least nine homes are for sale on her road and notices are being posted on houses because of non-payment of taxes.

Others who spoke in favor included school district board members Mara Jones and Matt Irick, as well as Doby's Mill Elementary librarian Beth Long. All pointed out the basic needs for the funds and explained that the money will go toward the deferred maintenance in the schools. Mara Jones pointed out that other money left over from the millage  would be used to fund other items previously cut, such as arts, supplies for teachers and band equipment, to name a few.

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