Increase in taxes for Dorchester Co. residents following budget approval

Increase in taxes for Dorchester Co. residents following budget approval

DORCHESTER COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Dorchester County residents will soon notice an increase in their taxes.

In a 5-2 vote, council members approved a budget for the fiscal year of 2016 that starts July 1.

Two big things impacted why Dorchester County raised its general fund budget by over $2 million dollars, to $48,233,528.

The county is building a new detention center in Jedburg and learned they have to hire an additional 27 employees to meet state inspections in order open the facility.

Also, with an increase in population, the emergency call volume has spiked 15 percent from last year. The increased budget makes room for two dispatchers to be hired.

County officials say their emergency responders have also not been getting adequate rest during their 24 hour shifts, because of all the emergency calls.

As part of the budget, EMS shifts will be cut down to 12 hours. It will cause for 16 more employees to be hired to cover shifts. According to the County Administrator Jason Ward's report, that will cost the county $1,191,052.

Two councilmenbers, George Bailey and Carroll Duncan, voted against the proposed budget.

However, many of the council members made a point verbally agree with each other on one thing: Dorchester County wouldn't be in the position to raise taxes if the state was paying the county what it promised.

"The State of South Carolina Local Government Fund has cut us short over ten million dollars," said Bailey. " They have caused us to put a burden on the taxpayers."

According to county officials, the 5.5 millage will go into affect on taxpayers next month. According to Dorchester County Council Chairman David Chinnis, that will even out to roughly $33 a year for the average taxpayer, with the average home value of $150,000.

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