The Ungraceful Horry County Budget

By Paul Gable

What appeared to be a shock to Horry County Council Tuesday night that county revenues will decline as a result of reassessment of property values should not have been.

A year ago we wrote that the county would experience a decrease in overall land value as a result of reassessment and council would have to raise taxes in order to keep tax revenue at the same levels as before reassessment.

Horry County Administrator Chris Eldridge tried to lessen the shock by saying it’s not a huge amount of money that is being talked about.

But, can we even accept that prediction since only a month ago, at the county’s budget retreat, county staff was predicting reassessment would be revenue neutral?

Was that an effort to keep those $4,500 each police radios and other staff “pet projects” in the budget?

County Finance Director Barry Spivey told council that county staff does not have good numbers yet with regards to the full effects of reassessment. However, Spivey said preliminary numbers indicate a “small decline” in total assessed value of property within the county.

Spivey predicted staff would have the final numbers on reassessment sometime in July.

But, those numbers won’t really be final. Some property owners in the county will see the value of their property and their property taxes rise, as happens with all reassessments. Expect challenges to the assessed property value to be numerous in those cases, delaying actual final numbers until the challenge process is completed in each case.

We will be dealing with a “fill in the blanks” budget for months.

For years Horry County has accepted growth as the norm with the resultant rise in property values and tax revenues that go along with growth. That is why things such as $4,500 each radios are even considered.

County staff’s choreography was completely disjointed Tuesday night as it tried to dance around the potential of a tax increase. It was a most ungraceful performance.

Our prediction is we have not seen the end of this ungraceful performance yet.


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