Beaufort council approves 4.32 percent property tax increase

emoody@beaufortgazette.comAugust 27, 2013 

Beaufort City Hall

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  • In other business, council:

  • Gave Publix Supermarkets Inc. a portion of Inlet Road for use as access to and parking for a store it intends to build on Lady's Island.

  • Gave city manager Scott Dadson permission to enter a contract for engineering services on an as-needed basis with Ward Edwards. The city solicited proposals from engineering firms earlier this year.

  • Met in a closed-door session between the worksession and meeting, and after the meeting, to discuss personnel and contractual issues. Further information on those issues was not provided.

  • Interviewed candidates for the Redevelopment Commission and the Historic Review Board, including sitting members whose terms are expiring.

  • Discussed changing term limits for the Tree Board that would mean three of the five members would have to vacate their seats. Board chairwoman Barb Farrior said it can be difficult to find people to fill the positions. She said all the current members want to continue to serve.

  • Approved a request from Friends of the Library for co-sponsorship and use of the pavilion at the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park for the annual library book sale Sept. 26-29.

Beaufort City Council increased property tax rates by 4.32 percent Tuesday night.

But that hike doesn't necessarily mean you'll pay more. That depends on how the assessed value of your property has changed.

The rate increase has been anticipated since council approved a $17.7-million budget in June that also raised trash collection fees and cut more than $360,000 in spending.

The tax increase was not finalized until council voted Tuesday to adjust the millage rate based on a recently completed reassessment by the Beaufort County's Assessor's Office.

In order to send out tax bills, the county needed the millage rate set by the middle of September, city finance director Kathy Todd said.

A "roll-forward" of the millage rate adjusts the base rate so the amount the city collects this year is the same as last. The tax increase is in addition to the base rate.

Property owners could see a either a decrease or increase in individual bills based on how their assessed property value changed.

The tax increase would generate approximately $142,000 in additional revenue for the city.

The county set its rate last week and the town of Port Royal is poised to vote on its millage rate next week, Beaufort city manager Scott Dadson said.

Beaufort's rate for this year is 66.61 mills, of which 47.44 is for operations and maintenance and 19.17 is to pay for debt.

One mill is equal to $1 of tax for every $1,000 of assessed property value.

The numbers from the county are not far from what city officials expected, based on estimates from March, Todd said. She said she felt confident that the information was reliable.

Property values "didn't decrease as much as we thought," Dadson said.

Areas that lost the most in value were mainly on Lady's Island and were commercial or vacant, he said.

Other areas, where the city has been investing in infrastructure, saw increases in value, Dadson said.

Overall, the property tax base value fell about 2.5 percent in the city as a result of the county reassessment, he said.

Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.

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