County below state average on tax levels

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By Stan Welch – Anderson County hasa reputation as an anti-tax county, and is in fact well below the state average in terms of several significant levels of taxations, as well as the number of county employees per capita.

Figures obtained from the South Carolina Association of Counties, or SCAC, Anderson County ranks pretty well. For example, the county has the 21st lowest property tax for county operations per capita. This does not include the millage spent on schools, which in Anderson county approach seventy per cent of all property taxes collected.

Anderson County ranks even better on property taxes on a home valued at $150,000. Under this formula, the home is assessed at 4%, which means the owners actually occupied the house; no homestead exemption was applied; additional millage for school districts, public service districts or special purpose tax districts were not included, but all millages applied countywide or to all unincorporated areas were applied. Based on this formula, Anderson County ranked 16th lowest among 46 counties.

The general fund budgets of the 46 counties were compared, and Anderson County ranked 7th lowest. Some larger counties, such as Greenville and Charleston actually have lower millage; but they also levy additional millage for specific uses, such as recreation.

They also impose 1% local option sales tax (LOST) for road and infrastructure uses. Charleston County also imposes an additional .05% sales tax for that purpose. Those revenues are not included in general fund calculations, or as ad valorem tax millage.

Anderson County does not impose a local option sales tax. It is one of only six counties which does not use such a tax. Anderson County does currently collect a 3% accommodations tax, but does not collect a two per cent hospitality tax at this time, although each of the county’s municipalities do collect that tax.

Those revenues are restricted for recreational uses, including capital projects, as well as activities and projects to promote tourism.

Anderson County also has the fourth lowest number of full time county employees per 1000 residents in the state. In terms of the general fund operations, salaries make up approximately 43% of all expenditures. These figures are based on gross income, and not associated benefits or withholdings.

Across the board, full time salaries, again without benefits included, take up 21% of the expenditures.

For comparison, two cities currently considering filing for bankruptcy in California spent 75% and 68 per cent on salaries.