Anderson County School Board supports new one cent sales tax

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By David Meade

The Anderson County School Board of Education voted Monday to support a proposal for a new one cent sales tax in Anderson County which would be used for school security, capital improvements for all five school districts and a reduction in property taxes. County Board Member Dale Martin was the only dissenting vote.

All five school districts have already passed resolutions in support of the tax increase. The school districts were asked to give their support so that the Anderson County Legislative Delegation can move forward with the proposal in Columbia.

Rep. Brian White, who heads the House Ways and Means Committee, is working on a resolution to have a referendum on the issue placed on the ballot for the 2014 November general election.

If approved by voters, the new tax will be on top of Anderson County’s six cent sales tax. Most counties in the state already have a similar sales tax in place. The tax will expire in 15 years.

Eighty percent of the funds will go to the school districts with twenty percent going to reduce property taxes.

It is estimated the new tax would generate approximately $13 million per year which would be divided among the five school districts based on enrollment.

According to School District One Superintendent David Havird, the tax is estimated to generate an additional $4,129,038 for District One.

According to Havird, in District One, the funds will be used for safety and security infrastructure and instruction and technology programs.

It can also be used for other capital improvements to facilities. The funds can be used for debt service and could result in a tax rollback for property owners and small businesses, Havird said.

Anderson School Districts Three, Four and Five would like to build a Career and Technology Center similar to the one Anderson School Districts One and Two have had for years.

Anderson School District One officials said they would use the funds to improve school safety and security, technology and instruction and possibly pay on general obligation debt.

Anderson School District One Board members discussed the proposal and approved a resolution in support of it at their January meeeting.

The resolution states:

Whereas all school districts of Anderson County have general obligation debt to provide for the education capital needs of Anderson County which is secured and paid by annual property taxes and there exists a need to provide resources for constantly evolving instructional and operational technology programs in all of the school districts, and

Whereas there is a need for state-of-the-art technical educational facilities to serve the interest of students in District Three, Four and Five comparable to Anderson One and Two, and

Whereas the financing of such common needs through a common source is the fairest and most efficient method of sharing the common investment of the resources and that finances the needs through a variety of property taxes would result in disparate millage rates in each of the different districts for common needs affecting the entire county, and

Whereas property taxes are unequally levied even within single school districts on account of assessment ratios, exemptions, industrial incentives and other property tax expenditures, such that operating property taxes disproportionately burden commercial property and rental housing,

The Board of Trustees recommends and requests the Anderson County Legislative Delegation to introduce the appropriate legislation to authorize and permit a referendum to approve a sales tax for all the school districts of Anderson County.

Currently business and commerical property owners and owners of rental housing pay the majority of the school district taxes while residential home owners received a state tax credit.