County Council still wants higher taxes

newsroom@islandpacket.comFebruary 23, 2014 

Beaufort County Council announced more taxes as a top priority for 2014. Now they are talking about two 1-cent sales tax referendums on the ballot this year. One of the biggest property tax increases ever was passed last year. Now they want more.

County administrator Gary Kubic and County Council should note property foreclosures are still happening -- five full pages in the newspaper last Friday. Does Council want more people to lose their homes?

In January, Kubic requested that council find new spending projects. If successful, higher sales taxes would follow the increased property tax bills just paid -- up 23.4 percent for debt service, up 15.6 percent for general fund and up 12.1 percent for debt service. The vote was 6 -5 for these 2013 increases, which affect real estate, vehicles and business property.

The county budget for 2014 estimates collecting $3 million more in property taxes than in 2013. That could violate the law concerning tax increases in a reassessment year. County Council was not even aware of the magnitude of the increase because it has failed to establish policies for the budget presentation format and financial transparency. Maybe the newly appointed finance committee chairman will lead development of improvements in what Council (and the public) sees.

The terms of four of those who voted for the monumental tax increases in 2013 will expire in 2014: Paul Sommerville, Stu Rodman, Jerry Stewart, and Laura Von Harten. Is it time for a change?

Jim Bequette

Lady's Island

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