County rate hike not neutral to taxpayer

info@islandpacket.comNovember 25, 2013 

Homeowners in Beaufort County have started receiving their 2013 real property tax bills. I used the payment plan to ease the pain of payment due on Jan. 15. The payments, broken down to manageable amounts, made for a pleasant relationship with the treasurer's office -- until I received the new tax bill.

County Council's reasoning for its tax rate increase was the drop in real property values. The increase was to balance a loss of real property tax revenue with a "modest" change in the amount paid. "Modest" being defined, by one councilman, as $30 to $50.

The school district reduced its tax rate by 3 percent because the county's reassessment computation was found to be in error. County Council compounded the error by not reducing its tax rate, and delaying the budget to the last minute, then ramming through an increase because it had a deadline.

Our property value fell $43,876. However, our taxes increased by more than 50 percent. Twice, I stood before County Council fighting the increase, along with numerous homeowners. I blasted out emails and wrote letters to the editor.

The following County Council members voted for the millage increase and are up for re-election is 2014: Chairman Paul Sommerville, Laura Von Harten, Jerry Stewart and Stu Rodman. Gerald Dawson and William McBride voted for it, and are up for reelection in 2016. I will not forget on Election Day.

Ann Ubelis


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