Letter to the Editor: Questioning Beaufort County’s handling of the budget, taxes

The Beaufort County School District volunteered to reduce its operations tax mills from the 100.55 mils approved on June 24 to 91.26 mils. A 9.2% reduction resulting in less taxes on vehicles, non-owner occupied homes and businesses. This was because county government’s re-assessment tax base computation was later found to be low.

Where is the corresponding reduction in Beaufort County’s whopping tax increases? On June 24, county voted to increase their operations tax mils 15.6%; debt service by 23.4%; and land purchases by 12.1%.  By comparison, the School District Operations was up only 10.2%, and now is only up 6.8%. Both the county and the district have the same tax assessment base. Why aren’t county mil reductions on the table?

On top of this problem, the county’s budget presentations in June were very confusing. Look at the mess they created in the library “additional hours” where the chairman of the Finance Committee was saying one thing and the County Administrator another just before the final vote. Council members and the public thought library hours were increased, but recently we learn otherwise.

Why does the Finance Committee Chair present the county budget? That should be the responsibility of the county administration with the County Council having approval authority.  Council needs to stop micro-managing.  Council responsibility is to set policy and ensure it is enforced. They fail at both.

In 2014 we need  to elect new council members  who understand policy establishment and enforcement.

Jim Bequette,  Lady’s Island

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