2017 School Board Tax Hike
By Alex Saitta
June 24, 2017
I read the school board of Pickens County passed its budget raising property taxes 2 mills. This was approved in a 4 to 2 vote, with Brian Swords, Shannon Haskett, Betty Bagley and Betty Garrison voting for the tax hike. This follows a slight tax increase in the school debt millage rate last fall, as the board increased borrowing year over year.
Both tax increases were unnecessary.
Revenue to the general fund was up $5.4 million before the 2 mill tax increase. That’s compared to revenue growth of $4.0 million in 2013, revenue growth of only $1.8 million in 2011 and worse yet revenue fell $3.1 million in 2009. You’d have to go back to 2006 to see all this new revenue coming into the school district. And they still can’t balance their budgets?
The board leadership cited rising pension costs as the reason for the tax hike. News Flash: Pension costs have been rising every year. This has long been a budget challenge and we always dealt with it within the revenue growth we had. Just like when your electric bill suddenly goes up, you don’t run to your boss and demand a pay raise or stuff the bill in your neighbor’s mailbox, you manage it.
Trustees during their campaigns tell voters, elect me, I am the one to solve our problems. Now this problem was thrown at them, and instead of effectively dealing with it, they said we can’t solve this, blamed the state, and dumped the bill on the people, raising their property taxes.
When you look at the Capital Maintenance Budget, the figures are worse. They are spending $1.5 million more than is coming in there. They plugged that deficit by boosting borrowing (again) and spending savings, which will run out at some point.
In our personal lives we all live within the salaries we are paid, but in government our leaders just can’t seem to do that; they keep growing spending and just raise taxes and borrow more to “solve” the problem.