Georgetown County Council considers higher property tax and empl - WCBD-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Charleston, SC

Georgetown County Council considers higher property tax and employee raises with new budget

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According to staff at the county, the 2014 proposed budget includes a 5 percent pay increase for all employees and higher property taxes.

The budget still has to undergo a public hearing on June 11 and third reading on June 25 before it is finalized.

If given final approval, the budget would restore the 3 percent employees lost in 2009 and begin the process of bringing salaries back in line with where they would have been before the cuts and a freeze in yearly cost of living raises that went in place the same year. According to county leaders, a 14.52 percent increase would be required to bring salaries up to the level they would be at had salaries not been cut and the freeze not put in place.

Council approved a draft budget that includes the 5 percent increase during a budget workshop on May 23. That was one of several options presented, and means a millage increase will also be part of the proposed budget for the first time in seven years.

"Several years ago, we asked employees to step up and share the burden" of a budget shortfall during the worst part of the recession, said Council Member Austin Beard. "They were willing to go arm in arm with us, and I think it's inherent upon us to do our best for them; to restore and strengthen the faith they had in us then."

According to the county spokesperson, the millage increase would amount to a total of $7.20 on a home valued at $100,000 in the Midway Fire District if that home is listed as a primary residence, and $11.60 on that same home in all other areas of the county. The difference in cost is due to differences in the county's two fire districts. While Midway covers a smaller, urban area. Georgetown County Fire/EMS has an expansive and more rural area to cover and a relatively low tax base.

As expected, the proposed budget council will review is larger than last year.  There is growth in the general fund, law enforcement fund, along with fire, rescue, and EMS budgets

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