Anderson County Fire Tax increase approved – Very low turnout for referendum

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By Stan Welch
Based on an embarrassingly low turnout of less than 4.5% of the eligible voters, a four mill increase in the Anderson County fire commission tax levy was approved. Of the four thousand six hundred and fifty one voters who turned out, eighty three more of them (2417) approved the increase compared to the 2234 who voted against it. The prohibitions on the percentage that taxes can be increased in a given year, established by Act 388, will draw out the increase over perhaps as long as fifteen years, according to Assistant Anderson County Fire Chief Brian Moon. A $100,000 house would see an increase of about $0.71 in the first year, according to data provided by Moon.
The value of a mill in Anderson county has not been set yet for this year, its value is estimated at approximately $800,000, Moon however contested that figure, saying, the fire district’s value falls somewhere between $625,000-$650,000. At six mills, the commission has just under four million dollars available to fund its operations. When the full increase is imposed, that amount will increase by approximately $2.6 million, depending on the value of the mill in coming years.
Confusion over who was eligible to vote in the referendum almost certainly contributed to the paltry turnout. Residents of towns with their own municipal fire departments, like Anderson and Williamston, were not eligible; nor will they experience the tax increase. Additionally, the off election year referendum was also an issue, and contributed to the low turnout.