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KCC falters at first reading of millage ordinance

Posted: September 17, 2010 11:48 a.m.
Updated: September 17, 2010 11:43 a.m.

Kershaw County Council failed twice Tuesday night to pass first reading of a county millage ordinance. The measure failed first on a 3-3 split, with councilmen Jimmy Jones, Bobby Gary and C.R. Miles Jr. opposing and Chairman Max Ford and councilmen Stephen Smoak and Sammie Tucker Jr. in favor. Councilman Gary Elliot was absent.

Tuesday’s failed ordinance included no increase in millage for the county operating and personnel budget (65.4 mills), county fire district (9.8 mills) or school bonds (66.8 mills). There was a 0.8-mill increase for debt service (9.1 mills), a 1.3-mill increase for the county sewer district (2.6 mills) and a 1.6-mill increase for school district operations (155.4 mills). The school district’s slight increase was based on projected student population increase.

The millage rate is the rate used in calculating taxes based upon the value of property, expressed in mills per dollar of property value.

The county mill value is $183,480, while the school operations’ is $186,840, according to County Administrator Clay Young.

County Attorney Ken DuBose explained that the county auditor will actually set the millage for debt service in order to pay the county’s bonds.

Ford made the initial motion with Smoak seconding.

Smoak said he didn’t necessarily agree with everything included in the ordinance, but he was trying to move forward first reading.

“We may not all agree on the numbers that are presented here, I don’t know that I agree…(but) we have to pass some sort of millage ordinance,” Smoak said.

After the meeting, Smoak said “any council members can make amendments at any of the future readings.”

Jones made a point to say he wasn’t voting “no” strictly because of the increase in school appropriations, but rather because of several items in the proposed ordinance.

“There are a lot of things in the millage ordinance that I don’t like,” Jones said during the meeting.

“At this time, with our economy the way it is, any increase in taxes is a bad idea,” Jones added Thursday via telephone.

Another attempt to at least pass first reading failed when Gary made a motion to reconsider first reading, but no one made a second. Smoak, Ford and Tucker weren’t allowed to second because they weren’t on the initial motion’s prevailing side.

DuBose and Young will now draw up another ordinance; one which they hope can garner the votes to pass first reading, though no councilman gave specific directions on what they wanted changed.

“You have to have some kind of a millage ordinance,” DuBose said.

In other business:

• After several months of discussion, council finally approved the purchase of a Cisco phone system for most of the county offices. Council awarded the low bid to A3 Communications of Irmo for $226,270.42.

Some councilmen questioned the price tag and how it would be paid for, but county IT director Chris Jones insisted the county needs it.

“We’re going to come in here one day, and our phone system is going to be off and we’re going to have no way to repair it because it’s antiquated,” Jones said.

Funds for the phone upgrade will come from a $2.2 million bond passed earlier this year.

• Kershaw County was presented with a plaque for its 76 percent mail-back rate from the 2010 Census. Kershaw County had the highest return rate in its regional council of governments.

Carolyn Hammond with the planning and zoning department -- which led the census effort for the county -- presented the plaque and briefly addressed council.

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