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Fire Taxes

Former Holly Hill Fire Department Chief Walter Kinsey puts on his fire-fighting gear before leading a demonstration at the Orangeburg County Fire District headquarters.

Orangeburg County Council is preparing to increase taxes in the county fire district.

“The council is adding a mill towards the fire district tax,” Orangeburg County Administrator Harold Young said.

Council voted to add one mill to the fire district tax during its meeting last week.

The fire district tax will increase from 17 mills to 18 mills. An additional mill is equal to a $4 increase on a $100,000 home.

Young noted that the increase only applies to people who have to pay the countywide fire millage as part of the fire district.

There are several reasons for the increase, including the county’s need to prepare for state budget cuts, Young said.

State lawmakers have not finalized South Carolina’s budget and the county is unsure what kind of cuts it will sustain.

In addition, the fire district has to purchase a new ladder truck.

“We just purchased the last one, that’s $1 million, and we need another one because of what’s being built at the 601 interchange with the two new hotels,” Young said.

“Also, Zeus is creating a new engineering and tooling facility, as well as we are in a joint venture with Calhoun County and Tri-County to basically create an industrial park on the opposite side of 601,” he said.

In other business:

• Council approved second reading of an ordinance regarding an infrastructure credit agreement and special source revenue credit with Project Paris. The project is valued at $30 million and will create 15 new full-time jobs.

• Council approved second reading of an ordinance regarding the general fund budget for the fiscal year which begins July 1.

• Council approved first reading of an ordinance regarding a fee-in-lieu of tax incentive and a special source revenue credit for Project Olive. The project is valued at $28 million.

Council also gave first reading to an ordinance placing the project in a multicounty industrial park, which allows it to receive certain incentives. There is no actual park.

• Council approved the expenditure of accommodations tax funds as recommended by the tax and tourism committee.

• Council approved construction to fill in a hole along the shoreline at Indian Bluff Park. According to Young, a hole developed after a tree fell and was uprooted. Young said the high water levels cover the 20-foot hole. Young stated that Porth Contracting Co. Inc. will be filling the hole with dirt and stabilize the shoreline at a cost of $233,800.

• Council approved the appointment of Tara Williamson to the Orangeburg County Library Board. Williamson was recommended by Councilwoman Ray Wannamaker Sabalis.

• Council approved first reading by title only of an ordinance regarding the special education budget, which provides for Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College, the Orangeburg County Disabilities and Special Needs Board, Vocational Rehabilitation, and public and special education for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

• Council approved first reading of an ordinance regarding an amendment to agreements made regarding the establishment of an economic development fund for the development of joint county industrial parks.

• Council approved third reading of an ordinance rezoning 114 Amadeus Drive in Cordova from residential general district to rural community district.

• Council approved third reading of an ordinance rezoning 6204 Charleston Highway, Bowman from forest-agricultural district to commercial general district.

• Council approved third reading of an ordinance rezoning 219 Stroman Street in Orangeburg from residential general district to rural community district.

• Rick Leonard, principal of the Cope Area Career Center, said placing a new county library on Russell Street near Railroad Coroner isn’t the best proposal.

Leonard said he is concerned that the proposed location is too close the already existing library on South Carolina State University’s campus.

Leonard feels that the best location for the library would be across from the Department of Public Utilities due to it being “easier access from both the east, west parts of the county and the south.”

Contact the writer: bharris@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5516

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