Tuesday, October 29, 2013
The opportunity to lower our property taxes will be on the ballot on November 5th for the general election. I encourage all voters to study the local option sales tax referendum and vote next Tuesday. If passed the property tax paying citizens in Summerville, Harleyville, Ridgeville, St. George and unincorporated Dorchester County will begin to see real and personal property tax relief in exchange for 1 cent at the cash register.
Our neighboring counties and cities have long since passed this for property owners in Charleston Berkeley and Colleton County. They have received hundreds of millions of dollars off their tax bills cumulatively over the past 2 decades. Dorchester County taxpayers are also paying for their tax relief and essentially funding their schools when we shop their stores such as Target Wal Mart Lowes, and others. If passed, the estimate by the county financial officer for property tax relief is conservatively projected at 9 million dollars a year for Dorchester property owners. County council passed a resolution to use all the money collected within the law for real and personal tax relief. I believe the tax relief will be more than $9 million when the new retail stores along Dorchester Road and others open for business. There is very little hope of property tax relief in any fashion coming to Dorchester County.
Our legislature has proven it cannot pass comprehensive tax reform as they go to Columbia year after year and do not address going to a consumption tax versus an income tax /property tax. In 2012 our tax mileage was 299 mills for school district two portions of Dorchester County. To add insult to injury, Charleston County millage was 179, Berkeley millage was 240. So we are 120 mills HIGHER than Charleston county and 54 mills higher than Berkeley. Charleston and Berkeley residents have saved millions each year AND enjoyed lower property tax.
Our county is at an economic disadvantage in attracting industry and jobs with our disproportionate property tax when compared to our neighbors. The future is bright for our region, however there is a sliding property tax differentiation. Dorchester citizens are paying the most in millage and additionally paying for Charleston and Berkeley Property tax relief when we shop their counties. We know that Over 20 percent of the shoppers in Dorchester County come from another county. A yes vote on November 5 would allow us to see property tax relief while allowing visitors to help pay for it. The local option is already working well in 31 counties in South Carolina including our next door neighbors. I encourage all voters to go to the polls and vote YES on the only choice now or in the foreseeable future to lower property taxes for Dorchester County citizens.