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Charleston Co. property tax bills to drop

  • Updated

Property tax bills on vehicles and on homes in which Charleston County residents live will decrease next year, despite an increase in the tax rate.

The county’s 2013 budget, approved by County Council last month, included a 2 percent increase in the tax rate. But the increase was more than offset by income from a local option sales tax.

Under next year’s budget, taxes on a $100,000 owner-occupied home will decrease by $4.80. And an owner of a $20,000 car will see a 64 cent drop in the county’s part of the tax bill.

County budget director Mack Gile said commercial property owners will face a 40 cent increase on a $100,000 property.

Gile said council approved a $428.2 million operating budget for fiscal year 2013, which began July 1. That’s up $53 million, or 14 percent, from the current year’s budget.

County Councilmen Dickie Schweers and Joe Qualey voted against approving the budget, while the other seven council members voted to approve it.

Voting in favor were Teddie Pryor, Henry Darby, Anna Johnson, Elliott Summey, Colleen Condon, Herb Sass and Vic Rawl.

Schweers said that even though some property tax bills would decrease, it’s important to acknowledge that County Council increased the tax rate. If it hadn’t done that, property tax bills on vehicles and owner-occupied homes would be even lower.

And the county rarely rolls back a tax rate increase, so it will apply in future years, even if local option sales tax revenues decline.

The goal of the local option sales tax was “to totally refund the money” to taxpayers, Schweers said. It wasn’t to offset increases in the tax rate.

“It’s their money.”

Reach Diane Knich at 937-5491 or on Twitter @dianeknich.

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