Mayor Riley and city council pass tax hike

Charleston Mayor and city council pass property tax

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Tuesday night's public hearing was packed with educators asking for more security at city elementary schools.

"If in the event something did happen, at least the police would be there to provide them protection. Make my children feel safe tomorrow."

Mayor Joe Riley and city council passed an emergency tax hike. The money will go, in part, to 19 police officers covering the city's 35 elementary schools.

"The number one thought on the mind of every parent, every morning is not how will my child do on the big test today. The number one question every parent asks is 'is my child safe,' said Superintendent Dr. Nancy McGinley.

A former Charleston school board member says it was the city's responsibility to find the money in its current budget.

"This movement has been packaged, exploited, marketed and pushed on us the law abiding tax-paying citizens right from the beginning, while overlooking anyway of tweaking the recently passed budget to find solutions," said Maryann Taylor.

Council members were also divided on the issue.

"Find a way," said Councilmember Robert Mitchell. "If you can tell me another way where I could get this money then it would have been different, but don't come out and say we're going to look for another place and look for another alternative and you can't show me where it is. I've got problems with that."

"I've been extremely disappointed with how this body has approached this matter," said Councilmember Dean Riegel. "I do feel that we as a city administration, the council members do have some responsibility in the point where we've come today."

Part of the increase will also go towards two new fire stations in West Ashley and in Cainhoy, as well as 45 new firefighters.