By Stan Welch
The proposal to delay the reassessment of property values in Anderson County received second reading approval Tuesday night, based largely on assurances by County Assessor Mike Freeman that the need for the delay would be fully explained at a work session prior to the third reading.
The reassessment was due to take place this year, but can be delayed by vote of the Council. Some have pushed for the reassessment, arguing that the housing market has lowered values and that taxes should reflect that.
Freeman is arguing for a delay while he finishes tweaking assessment software that he hopes to also market to other counties and states. Council voted four to two, with Council members Wilson and Moore opposed, and Councilman Francis Crowder abstaining.
Rick Cothran, from TriCounty Technical College, appeared to make his case for a long term low cost lease arrangement for approximately 77 acres of county land at the airport. Cothran told Council that the land would be used for training heavy equipment operators in such areas as earth moving, site preparation, and asphalt installation.
He said that a private company conducted such training last year but has since relocated to Texas. The value of the program was clear, however, and Cothran and TCTC want to reinstate it. Cothran said that almost 150 operators were trained last year.
The program would prepare equipment operators to be certified by SCDOT to perform work on DOT projects. The need for land would be small at first, perhaps an acre and a half. That area would essentially be dug up and refilled and graded and regarded by the various classes. But as asphalt operations are added to the curriculum, more land would be needed.
Councilman Francis Crowder raised concerns about how the land would be used until Cothran explained that TCTC was asking for no money and had no plans to construct anything on the property. “I just need some dirt to move around and pile up and move around some more,” said Cothran. “And I haven’t asked anyone for money.”
Councilman Eddie Moore and Councilwoman Cindy Wilson both pointed out that the land was bought by the County and asked whether Oconee and Pickens County might be interested in contributing to defraying that cost. “This is a very exciting proposition,” said Wilson, “but we are still paying on that land and that needs to be addressed.”
The request was presented as information only with no vote taken.
Councilwoman Gracie Floyd reported on the review of three county departments that the planning and public works committee, which she chairs, conducted recently.
She reported that Gail King, of the County’s MIS department, reported that the computer telephone system needs replacing. She also reported that a review of the County park system reveals that all of the 32 county parks will require improvements.
She raised the issue of making the two cent hospitality tax used by several municipalities to fund their recreational programs county wide, a move which projections indicate might raise as much as $3 million a year.
Finance committee chairman Francis Crowder challenged Floyd, saying that the ordinances defining the authority of the finance committee made it plain that the MIS department did not come under the purview of Floyd’s committee. “I see nothing here, Ms. Floyd, that places that department under your committee’s authority. The ordinance says clearly that the finance committee has authority in that matter.”
Floyd shrugged Crowder’s criticism off, saying “We shouldn’t pick all these things to pieces. Let’s just all work together to move the county forward.”