More funding needed after school district consolidation

Published: Jun. 19, 2012 at 11:01 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 29, 2012 at 11:01 PM EDT
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SUMTER, SC (WIS) - Sumter County School District says it needs $2 million this coming school year and they're asking county leaders for the money. If approved, property taxes will go up for local businesses and landlords.

Sumter County School Districts 17 and 2 are now one. The new district says with that consolidation came debt totaling $6 million. A spokeswoman said the shortfall is due to one district overspending and some funds were moved to cover expenses in other accounts.

In a letter to county council, the superintendent asked for the money to help. In order to get that money, the district says the county will have to consider raising property taxes for all businesses such as rental and investment properties.

Jack Owen manages Advantage Realty and is against the proposal.

"We see this as a real economic engine killer for Sumter County," Owen said.

Owen is concerned for the future of businesses like Continental Tire planning to set up shop in the area. He currently pays 6 percent in taxes. A tax hike over that will dip into his operating costs.

Owen says some businesses will likely pass the cost on to their customers.

"This is just the thing that will turn other businesses and industries off," Owen said.

The school district says they've used furloughs, and consolidated positions and compensation to offset the deficit. If they don't receive the money, they say more cuts will be made this upcoming school year.

Owens hopes county council will say no to the increase.

"We have got to learn live within those revenue levels rather than always reaching out, asking for more and more from the tax paying citizens," Owen said.

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