School officials concerned about effects of Fee-in-Lieu proposal

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By David Meade

David Havird, who recently took over as Superintendent of Anderson School District One, told the Board of Trustees Tuesday that representatives of all five Anderson County School Districts are meeting to Wednesday, (July 31) to discuss the Anderson County Council Fee-in-Lieu tax proposal.

To promote the growth of manufacturing in the state, governments are allowed to negotiate or offer lower fees in place of the set tax rates on commercial property, which in turn affects the amount of funding available to school districts.

Manufacturing property is assessed at 10.5 percent of the fair market value while commercial personal property is assessed at 10. 5 percent and commercial real property is assessed at 6 percent. The county and the company involved can also agree to freeze the millage rate that applies to the property for five years.

The largest portion of tax bills for commercial, rental property and personal property (automobiles) goes to the local school districts. The remaining portion is used for funding various government services.

School districts rely on the tax funding to provide space and teachers for any growth in population/students in the district.

Often when a new manufacturing plant or other business locates in a county, there is related increase in residential population due to more jobs.

According to Anderson District One Financial Director Steve Uldrick, legal advice he has obtained states that the current proposal being considered by Anderson County Council would be “the most devastating in the state,” in its effect on District One schools.

Anderson County is considering Fee-in-Lieu incentives for new businesses or manufacturers locating in the county with the entire amount collected going to pay for infrastructure and other things and none of it going to school districts.

Havird said he and other county school officials plan to attend a county committee meeting this Thursday to express concerns about the proposed fee structure.

Havird also presented a 90 page procurement policy for first reading to the board.

The policy is available in the District office and on the website, he said.

School District One came under the requirements of the State procurement code when they reached the $70 million threshold for general fund and building fund during the last five years.

Havird said the guide adds additional bid requirements and “will slow our bid process down.”

Havird also told the Board of Trustees Tuesday that the District’s $57.8 million general fund budget had recently been approved by the Anderson County School Board and that the county board “commended District One trustees for their stewardship, test scores and instructional programs.”

Anderson District One has consistently been in the top of the state in those areas and currently has the second lowest per pupil expenditure for all Districts in the state.

Havird said no changes were recommended by the County Board and that “We are in good shape to proceed.”

Havird also said that the District will be receiving additional special education funding for 2013-14. “It will help us this year significantly,” he said.