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Aiken City Council backs no millage increase as budget review continues

Ed Girardeau, Pointing, Aiken City Council

Aiken City Council member Ed Girardeau points as someone makes a motion Monday night. (Colin Demarest/Staff)

The Aiken City Council on Monday night preliminarily approved an ordinance to maintain the city’s current millage rate, a measure used to calculate local property taxes.

The millage rate is poised to remain at 62, where it has been since 2012. A second vote – expected later this month – is needed to lock it in. Things could change, though, after Aiken County wraps its property reassessment effort later this year. Results are expected in the fall.

“Based upon the information we have at this time, we are prepared to proceed with continuing our millage rate at 62 mills,” City Manager Stuart Bedenbaugh explained in a Monday memo to City Council members. “However, after we receive the reassessment figures, we will need to adjust our millage rate.”

City Council sets the millage rate separate from the budget, which is also under review. The city's spending blueprint was briefly reviewed Monday night.

The value of a mill in Aiken for fiscal year 2021-22 is estimated to be $185,450 – an increase compared to the previous fiscal year. Such a bump is evidence of a lucrative real estate market in the city.

“Values are up,” City Council member Ed Girardeau said.

The city last increased millage in 1989, when it was set at 120.

The decades-long streak is attributable to “good stewardship by City Council,” a governing body that “continues to make Aiken viable for growth while maintaining its attractiveness as a place to live,” according to Bedenbaugh.

City Council mulled a 2-point millage hike during the fiscal year 2019-20 budget process. The increase was ultimately rejected.

City Council member Kay Biermann Brohl was absent Monday.

Colin Demarest covers the Savannah River Site, the Energy Department, its NNSA, and government and politics, in general. Follow him on Twitter: @demarest_colin.

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