School board raises millage

COUNTY — The Pickens County School Board raised millage Monday night in response to a reassessment of the county.

After the net assessed value of properties in Pickens County fell this year, the board voted Monday to increase operating millage by four mills, from 108 to 112, in order to maintain the same amount of revenues from last year and avoid running a deficit or making drastic cuts.

Maintaining the current operating millage of 108 mills would have cost the district approximately $1.1 million in revenues from the general fund, forcing cuts to programs and staff, according to officials.

According to a release from school district spokesman John Eby, owner-occupied homes are not subject to operating millage, but businesses, second homes, rental properties and vehicles may be impacted.

For some taxpayers, this could result in a tax decrease if their property was assessed at a lower value this year. Those whose properties were assessed at the same or a higher value will see a small tax increase.

The millage change does not increase the district’s local revenues from the prior year.

Debt service millage was also set at 53.2 mills to meet the required debt service payments. This is an increase of 0.7 mills.

The board approved the motion to raise millage on a 4-2 vote, with chairman Alex Saitta and board member Jimmy Gillespie voting against the measure.

“In sum, the tax base shrunk, but spending was not allowed to fall proportionally,” Saitta said. “Instead, property taxes were raised by four mills to make up for it.

“This is going to be harder on manufacturing and business, because those valuations are up in the reassessment, and now they have a higher tax rate too. The tax rates for school district debt is up 0.7 mills. That’s mostly due to the rising bond payment for the outstanding bonds for the Greenville Plan.”

For the district, the move is revenue-neutral, with the district receiving the same amount of taxpayer dollars as before.