CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Charleston City Council voted Tuesday to approve the first reading of a $3.5 million tax hike for its citizens.
The hike, proposed by long-time Mayor Joe Riley, would be the first for Charleston since 2008.
It would set aside money for a number of projects, including: placing school resource officers in public and private elementary schools, building new fire stations in West Ashley and Cainhoy, providing a new ladder truck and hiring new firefighters.
The vote, which passed in a narrow vote of eight to five, could take effect as early as next month. Mayor Joe Riley has said expediency is vital, as Charleston does not have a moment to waste.
The city's 2013 operating budget is just over $138 million. According to City Councilman Mike Seekings, almost 46% of that total is already used to fund public safety like police and fire services.
If passed, city taxpayers would pay $40 more a year on a $250,000 home.
A second reading on the proposed hike will be held on Feb. 26, and public comment will be allowed during that session.
(Editor's note: A previous version of this story stated part of the money approved would go towards increasing the police presence on upper King and Market streets. That was incorrect. Live 5 News sincerely regrets the error.)