Motion to credit taxpayers for SRO funding fails in Dorchester Co.

Motion to credit taxpayers for SRO funding fails in Dorchester Co.

DORCHESTER COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - A motion that would credit taxpayers in Dorchester County for SROs failed to pass.

On Monday night, Dorchester County Council looked at the costs for hiring school resource officers as compared to private security officers.

County Councilman Larry Hargett presented the motion to move that the 2016-2017 fiscal year budget include a credit to all taxpayers who are having to pay more right now because of a decision made in July to fund SROs in the school district.

Council members voted 4-2 against the motion.

On July 27, 2015, County Council voted 4-2 to raise taxes and put a school resource officer in every elementary school, causing a tax increase.

However, a Feb. 24, 2016 opinion by the South Carolina Attorney General could change who is protecting the students in the future.

The opinion states in part:

"It is our opinion that a school district could lawfully employ a security officer other than a School Resource Officer to provide protection at schools.  Security officers licensed by SLED pursuant to State Code 40-18-18 could be used by the school, in our opinion.  Such officers would possess the powers of a deputy sheriff on the property they are hired to protect - in this instance, a public school.  Any opinion of this Office to the contrary is not superseded."

The Tidwell & Associates consultants, hired by Dorchester School District 2 (DD2) in January 2015, recommended a total five-year savings cost for DD2 of $1,755,600 between DD2 hiring a private security company and the cost for Dorchester County Sheriff's Deputies SROs in DD2 schools.

There is a 47% annual savings in hiring a private security company versus having Sheriff's Deputies as SROs.

As part of Monday's motion, Hargett wants to credit all taxpayers, upon whose property is real or personal, the one mill for SRO funding that was levied in an amount equal to the amount of taxes paid by the taxpayers resulting from the one mill levy approved in July 2015.

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