DD2: SC Constitutional act costs district around $140M in funding since 2008
SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCSC) - Dorchester District Two officials say a provision in the South Carolina Constitution is costing them tens of millions of dollars each year in property taxes.
Instead of having the taxes from primary homes pay for local schools, Act 388 of the South Carolina Constitution calls for taxes from vehicles, businesses, industry and sales tax to fund local school districts. It’s been that way in South Carolina since the mid-2000s.
Board Member Justin Farnsworth, who heads the district’s budget and finance committee, said the district has lost around $140 million in funding because of the act since 2008.
Historically, Farnsworth said Dorchester County is more residential compared to Berkeley and Charleston counties, which is one of the driving forces behind the shortfall.
Once collected, he said those tax dollars go to Columbia, where it’s distributed to school districts, but he argued that the district has never gotten a full reimbursement since the act was passed.
Farnsworth said that puts constraints on what the district can do with the money they have.
“That’s for programs. That’s for initiatives. That’s stuff that can go to our kids’ education. That’s classrooms,” Farnsworth said. “There’s just a lot of stuff that unfortunately we cannot even put on the table to talk about doing in Dorchester District Two because we unfortunately don’t have the funds for it.”
Farnsworth said it would take a comprehensive tax reform in the state and a constitutional repeal to revert the changes.
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