The Greenville County School District will raise property taxes by 6.1 mills next fiscal year.
The board voted 6 to 4 to approve a budget for the 2013 fiscal year that includes a 6.1 mill property tax increase. Such an increase will increase taxes on a $15,000 car by $5.49, and increase taxes on a $200,000 commercial property by $73.20.
The 6.1 millage rate is lower than .
By South Carolina law, the millage could have been increased to 11.98 mills, which is based on cost of living and population adjustments.
A motion was put forth to discuss the 11.98 rate, but that did not pass. After that was shot down the board, they then moved to discuss the 6.1 mill increase which passed by the aforemention 6-4 vote.
The 6.1 mill increase is estimated to generate some $6.4 million in new revenues.
Lynda Leventis-Wells, Tommie E. Reece, Pat Sudduth and Lisa Wells were the four dissenting votes.
Wells said her vote was not because of the millage rate, but because of the fact that programs are still being funded at a pre-recession rate.
"It appears to me the revenue keeps getting adjusted up in Columbia and the economy is improving," Wells said. "As the economy as turning it would behoove us to get back to where we were before the recession. We’ve just been maintaining."
Wells noted that funding is still at 2001 levels and that a significant Budget Gap still exists. Details of that Gap are in the document that accompanies this story.
Wells' colleague Dr. Crystal Ball O'Connor was hoping the district could become less dependent on the state. She said the board should look at each year in order to fund what she says are critical tools for students, including challenge programs and science lab instruction.
"We have always taken the posture that it is someone else's fault that we're in this position," O'Connor said.
The new budget provides a two-percent raise for all employees, as well as step increases for teachers.
It also calls for 71 new teaching positions to meet the expected student population growth.
Highlights and details of the budget can be accessed by visiting the district's web site.
Even though the budget was voted on by the board, it could be changed based on what happens in the State Assembly, which still has to approve a budget for the coming fiscal year and must do so by the end of this month.
Board Member Debi Bush took a dig at the state legislature during the discussions, saying the state put a fiscal onus on local school boards the General Assembly isn't willing to burden itself with.
"I would like to see Columbia leave money like that on the table," Bush said of the board's decision to raise taxes by only 6.1 mills.