County rejects R2 request for 18.4 mills

Pugh: County Needs to Re-evaluate How We Spend Money

COLUMBIA – Richland County Council passed third and final reading of its FY 2022-23 budget Tuesday night, excluding Richland School District Two’s request for an 18.4 millage increase.

It was the second year the council has passed a no-millage-increase budget.

The vote to pass the budget was 8 to 3 with both of Blythewood’s representatives, Derrek Pugh (Dist. 2) and Gretchen Barron (Dist. 7), and Bill Malinowisky (Dist. 1) voting against.

“This [the 18.4 millage request] is a very hot topic in the community,” Pugh said just before the vote. “The budget before us will not raise taxes, but it’s imperative that not only millage agencies but Richland County as a whole needs to re-evaluate how we spend money and make the necessary adjustments. Everybody is experiencing shortfalls. So it’s important for us to exercise other options before sticking our citizens with higher tax bills.”

Last week, the Richland Two School Board voted 4 to 3 to ask Richland County for the 18.4 millage increase over the District’s current 7 mills. Board members Lindsay Agostini, Dr. Monca Elkins Scott and LaShonda McFadden voted against.

Current Millage Rate (331.70) plus the 18.4 mill increase would have hit the millage cap of 350.10 for FY 2022-23.

County council had already held second reading and the public hearing on the county budget before the Richland Two Board voted to request the millage increase. County council would have had to hold a fourth reading and another public hearing to consider that increase.

Instead, council passed the budget with the District’s last year’s 7 mills, which did not cause and increase in the county budget.

Richland County Planning Commissioner Steven Gilchrist spoke against the county raising taxes before the budget vote was taken. Following the meeting, Gilchrist expressed his approval of council’s vote.

“Richland County council needs to be applauded for not going along with this foolishness to raise taxes by 18 mills which Richland School District Two requested. Leadership matters and our county council proved that to the school district and the citizens today!” Gilchrist said.

The District’s requested millage increase would have raised property taxes for local businesses and secondary homes ad was estimated to bring an additional $6.16 million in to the District next year.

Superintendent Dr. Baron Davis stated that, with the 18.4 mill increase, a businesses with a property value of $100,000 would have payed $9 more a month in property taxes or $108 a year.

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