Charleston ballot questions include an increase in property tax and funding for new schools

VIDEO: Charleston ballot questions include an increase in property tax and funding for new schools

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Charleston County says this year’s election could change property taxes as residents will be asked about an increase to fund a Local Housing Trust Fund.

Officials say the proposed Local Housing Trust Fund would be a new program for the county.

Charleston County says they are asking citizens if they should create the program, requiring a two “mill tax” increase.

“Mill tax” is how the county says they calculate property tax liability.

So, for a two “mill tax” increase on a $300,000 home, the county says the homeowner will pay about $24 annually.

The county says they expect the tax would generate $8 million per year to fund affordable housing efforts for up to 20 years.

A second question asks permission from the citizens to borrow the full amount which county officials say will be collected over the 20 years. They say it will be used immediately to fund the affordable housing program.

This would mean Charleston County will raise $130 million if voters vote “yes” for both the first and second question.

If the citizens do vote to levy the two “mill tax”, Charleston County Representative Shawn Smetana says the county would hire a consultant to write up and oversee the new program.

Officials say voters will also be asked if they want to extend the current 1% sales-and-use tax in Charleston County for another six years. If approved, they say the sales tax will continue through 2028.

The Education Capital Improvements and Sales and Use Tax Act Referendum will fund dozens of improvements to schools across Charleston County and officials say some of these improvements will include:

  • A replacement school for Hursey Montessori School
  • An expansion at Carolina Park Elementary School
  • A new elementary school on John’s Island
  • A replacement school for James B Edwards School
  • A new Early Education and Family Development Center at the James Island Middle School Campus
  • Purchasing land north of Sanders Clyde in the City of Charleston for a future school
  • A replacement for Northwoods Middle School

The county says this sales tax makes up about 20% of the Charleston County School Districts annual budget.

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