The Beaufort County School District volunteered to reduce its operations tax rate from the 100.55 mills approved in June to 97.45 mills. This 3 percent reduction results in less taxes on vehicles, non-owner occupied homes and businesses. The reassessment tax base for the school dit was increased after the tax rate was set in June.
Where is the corresponding reduction in Beaufort County's whopping tax increases? Both the county and school district have the same tax base. Why aren't county tax rate reductions on the table?
On June 24, County Council voted to increase operations tax rate by 15.6 percent; debt service by 23.4 percent; and land purchases by 12.1 percent. By comparison, the school district's operations tax rate was up only 10.2 percent, and now it is only up 6.8 percent.
On top of this, the county's budget presentations in June were very confusing. Look at the mess they created in funding additional library hours. The chairman of the County Council Finance Committee was saying one thing and the county administrator another just before the final vote. Council members and the public thought library hours would be increased, but recently we learned otherwise.
Why does the Finance Committee chairman present the county budget? That should be the responsibility of the county administrator, with the council having approval authority.
Council needs to stop micro-managing. Its responsibility is to set policy and ensure it is carried out. It fails at both.
In 2014, we need to elect new council members who understand how to establish policy and enforce it.