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KCC closer to setting millage rate

Posted: September 15, 2011 4:14 p.m.
Updated: September 16, 2011 5:00 a.m.

Based on preliminary property value calculations, the millage rate for Kershaw County is unlikely to be raised, according to County Auditor Robin Watkins. Watkins presented those calculations to Kershaw County Council at its meeting Tuesday.

With that information in hand, council voted unanimously -- with Chairman Gene Wise and Councilman Stephen Smoak absent -- on first reading of an ordinance setting the county’s millage rate.

County Administrator Vic Carpenter reiterated Watkins’ statement and added that the county should get a clearer picture of the millage situation once more definitive numbers become available, which is expected to happen by second reading of the ordinance.  

“At this point, as we said last meeting, there will likely be no millage increase for county operations,” Carpenter said. “There is a possibility that there may be a small rollback for the county as well.”

A “rollback” refers to lowering the previous year’s millage rate in order to prevent the county from getting more money than it was budgeted. This prevents the county from creating a revenue “windfall,” which would be in violation of state law.

According to Watkins, the purpose of reassessment is to redistribute the influx of county funds.

“It’s not the purpose to get the overflow of money to come in,” Watkins said. “What they’re doing is the assessor’s office goes out and looks at all the property in the county and determines what goes up in value and what goes down so it re-shifts who pays what. Reassessment has never been designed to bring in extra dollars.”

She added that due to a variety of circumstances, including lack of industrial development and the decrease in the construction of new homes, a “significant” rollback in millage would likely not be possible.

Council also unanimously voted at Tuesday’s meeting for first reading of an ordinance restructuring the rules and order of business for meetings.

If the ordinance is passed on third reading, three significant changes will take place. The first change would allow legal documents like ordinances and resolutions to be executed with only the signature of the chairman or the vice chairman. Currently, both Chairman Wise and Vice Chairman Sammie Tucker Jr. must sign documents in order for them to be official.

The second change would alter meeting agendas by designating old business from new business. 

The third change would allow council to approve the agenda without having to get pre-approval by the chairman and vice chairman. The chair and vice chair are currently required to approve an agenda before it’s presented to council. The proposed change would allow the agenda to simply be approved by council during the beginning of each meeting.

Furthermore, council unanimously passed a resolution formalizing the dates for work sessions. The resolution establishes that, if necessary, work sessions will be scheduled each Thursday preceding regularly scheduled council meetings.

Two county officials also made presentations during the meeting. Chief Magistrate Rick Todd reported to council details on some of the successes at the magistrate office, including improvements to a backlog of driving under the influence cases.

“My primary focus has been to come up with the process and systems and ideas and solutions to aggressively attack that backlog issue,” Todd said.

He said he’s also trying to find the most logical and effective way to operate the office.

“When I inquire as to why we do something, the answer that I do not want is ‘that’s the way it’s always been done.’ The answer that I want to hear and that I expect is ‘that’s the best way to do it,’” Todd said.

Sheriff Jim Matthews outlined progress made by the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO).

“Despite the expected bumps in the road, operations at the sheriff’s office are running very smoothly,” Matthews said. “Deputies are being trained at an all-time high and cooperation between the sheriff’s office and other agencies is outstanding. We are striving to provide the public, either residents or those who travel in our county, with courteous, professional, and effective law enforcement.”

Other actions by council at its meeting included:

• unanimous approval of a resolution establishing a mutual aid agreement between the KCSO and Sumter Police Department;

• unanimous approval of second reading of an ordinance rezoning property on Wells Road from RD-1 to RD-2 to allow for the use of manufactured housing on the land; and

• unanimous approval of a resolution honoring Sid Isler for his work on the Santee-Lynches Workforce Investment Board, which seeks to improve the quality of the workforce in the region.

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