874By Paul Gable
As Horry County Council continues talks on next fiscal year’s budget, a large increase in county taxes will be part of the deliberations.
According to county sources familiar with budget planning, a tax increase of possibly as much as 7.25 mills for the county’s general operating fund is being considered by Horry County Council.
The plan amounts to a 20% increase in county tax millage for the general operating fund, which is expected to bring in an additional $15 million in new tax revenue.
The increased revenue will mainly be used to fund various public safety departments, including additional personnel in the sheriff’s and solicitor’s departments as well as Horry County Police Department.
It is also rumored that the tax increase will help pay for an across the board pay increase for county workers as well as avoiding the necessity of dipping into the county’s reserve fund to pay for expenses.
Now, several weeks after the council’s spring budget retreat, the proposed county budget for next fiscal year, beginning July 1, 2015, is as undecided as any I can remember over the past 20 years.
Introduction of a possible, large tax increase can only complicate deliberations further as the process moves to its June 30, 2015 deadline for completion.
According to our sources, another Horry County Council budget workshop is being planned prior to second reading of the budget. The proposed tax increase will, reportedly, be at the front and center of discussion at the upcoming workshop.
Even though a large tax increase is being proposed, there is no guarantee that it will be approved.
There is a potential problem caused by including funding for HCPD in the tax increase. While the police are funded by countywide tax millage, their service area does not include the incorporated towns and cities in the county unless a specific service contract has been approved by both Horry County Council and council of the respective city or town involved.
Such a large tax increase could bring the question of dual taxation to the fore because taxpayers in the municipal areas would be paying for Horry County police services they don’t receive while also paying city/town taxes for police services.
It will be interesting to see how our so-called conservative, small government, low tax Republicans on Horry County Council vote on this issue.
It will also be interesting to see how our supposed conservative Republican voters, especially those of the Tea Party ilk, accept the news of such a proposed large tax increase.