Dorchester Co. votes to raise taxes for DD2

VIDEO: Dorchester Co. votes to raise taxes for DD2

DORCHESTER COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Taxes in Dorchester District Two could be going up.

Hundreds showed up to Monday's county council meeting, with most in favor of the tax increase.

Even with the hundreds who turned out, the vote wasn't unanimous, ending up 4 to 2, and the reason for that has more to do with the state's laws than council's support.

DD2 requested the tax increase to pay for new teachers and a 4 percent raise, the first in five years.

The district needed about $1.5 million. It got $900,000.

"We'll have to go back to the budget and cut off some of the things that we had planned to do," Joseph Pye, DD2's superintendent said. "We'll have to tighten up and instead of a 4 percent raise, it may be a three."

The tax increase won't affect taxes on homes, but will be about $7 a year on a $30,000 car or $120 a year on a $500,000 business.

Those who didn't vote for the increase said their big concern is that because the taxes don't impact homes, Dorchester County is becoming a place to live but not a place to own a business.

"Are we willing to cede that business to Berkeley County and Charleston County," Council chairman David Chinnis asked. "Because if we're willing to do that, you better turn out for the next 50 years because the next council will have the same challenge."

Those in the audience said the tax hike is still necessary, and without it, the district will continue to lose quality teachers.

"Just at the last board meeting was 27 teachers, and the reason for their resignation was going to another school district," one speaker said.

"We chose to live in Dorchester District Two not for the rec center, not for beautiful parks, although we have a few," Another speaker said. "We chose to live here for Dorchester District Two schools."

"It's time that people don't just pat us on the back and say 'good job'," Pye said. "It's time to really show it."

"We have got a broken funding system," Chinnis said.

"It's a state problem," Pye said. "We're way under-funded."

Monday's vote is not final. Council members said there is still time to change numbers around before the third reading of the budget on June 15.

Dorchester County is also dealing with its own budget shortage. This year the county is short about $2 million as well and has also voted to raise taxes.

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