By DEUCE NIVEN
With a penny cut from the county’s tax rate, some money added for school security efforts and a new pick-up truck, a divided Columbus County Board of Commissioners on Monday united behind a budget for the year that begins July 1.
Three commissioners – Buddy Byrd, Trent Burroughs and Amon McKenzie – voted first to accept the budget plan presented by County Manager Bill Clark last month, with no change in the current tax rate of 81.5 cents for every $100 in taxable property.
Revaluation of the county’s taxable property, which takes place at least every eight years under state law, showed a slight increase in those values this year, Clark said. A “revenue neutral” budget would have trimmed a penny from the tax rate, but Clark recommended keeping the extra $300,000 the penny would generate in the budget.
Commissioner James Prevatte argued for cutting the penny, and was backed by three other board members, including Chairman Charles McDowell.
“If you do not stay at revenue neutral you are going to have a tax increase,” Prevatte said.
Commissioner Byrd, urging commissioners not to reduce the tax rate, reminded them that state and federal budgets for the new year have not yet been set, and could have significant impact on the local budget.
“How can we even set a budget when the state don’t have one?” Byrd said. “We do have to move forward and shoot in the dark and hope for the best.”
Look for more on this story in the June 19 Tabor-Loris Tribune print edition.