Taxes Don't Have To Be Raised
By Alex Saitta
October 8, 2012
This is letter expands on one Jimmy Gillespie wrote about 3 months ago.
I am disappointed school districts surrounding Pickens County have significantly raised tax rates this year: Anderson 1 raised taxes 5.1 mills, Anderson 4: 3.5 mills, Greenville: 6.1 mills, and Oconee 8.3 mills.
Raising property tax rates should be the last resort. There are millions in excess and waste that could be eliminated, freeing up funds for classroom needs.
Raising tax rates will impede the economic recovery. When tax rates are raised, salaries donít automatically rise. As a result, we all then have less in our pockets to buy goods and services or make investments which drive economic growth.
Raising property taxes may raise tax revenue for these districts in the short run, but it will mean less revenue in the long run, because their tax bases will grow less under the higher tax burden.
Steadily raising the cost of public education gives the state legislature another reason to expand charter schools or pass private school tax credits, because both alternatives are becoming less and less expensive relative to public schools. In Pickens County a charter school was opened and it plans to add more students next year. The state-wide charter school program was expanded by the legislature this year. School choice passed the State House for the first time. School choice advocates are gaining ground and will make another attempt next year.
On top of all this, the public school leadership in the state is pushing for a state-wide property tax. Raising tax rates and making public schools more expensive is the wrong direction.
Thanks to employee belt tightening, Pickens County schools balanced its budget without a tax increase and any extra money was directed toward the classroom. For instance, we added 17 classroom teaching positions this year and 9 last year. Test scores are rising. SAT scores in the district rose 18 points, and Pickens County is now number 2 in the state.
Budgets can be balanced and the classroom protected, without raising tax rates.