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Orangeburg County

Orangeburg County: Property taxes going up; officials cite rising prices, law enforcement

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Orangeburg County Administrative Center

Orangeburg County Administrative Center on Amelia Street

Orangeburg County property owners will see a tax increase as part of the county's budget.

Orangeburg County Council unanimously approved the increase on Monday. Two additional mills will be added to everyone’s property taxes for the general fund, while an additional mill will apply to property in the Orangeburg County Fire District.

“It is approximately $4 per mill, based on a house with a tax value of roughly $100,000,” Orangeburg County Deputy Administrator Marion Lloyd said.

For taxpayers in the fire district, it will mean a $12 annual tax increase on a $100,000 home that serves as a primary residence. Taxpayers outside the district will only see an $8 increase on a $100,000 home.

The current county general fund millage is 93 mills. The two additional mills will bring the total to 95 mills.

The current fire district millage is 18. One additional mill will bring the total to 19 mills.

“These are the millage increases that we deemed necessary to produce the budget for this year,” Orangeburg County Administrator Harold Young said.

Orangeburg County Council Chairman Johnnie Wright said, “Everything is going up so much.

“The cost of doing business in the county is going up tremendously also.”

Some bids are coming in 20 to 30 percent more than expected, he said.

Staff has “done a good job of trying to be very frugal with taxpayers’ money and we as council people try to minimize any kind of going up on any millage, but we have to do that sometimes,” Wright said.

There will also be a two-mill increase in the special lighting districts of the Brookdale and Brookland communities, meaning only those residents in those districts will see the specific millage increase.

County officials say the main reason for the millage increase is because of the request from the Orangeburg County Sheriff's Office for more money for equipment and personnel.

The county's overall general fund budget is about $50.2 million, with about $9 million funding the Orangeburg County Sheriff's Office.

In related matters, the county will carry over $861,655 from its project material and supplies account into the new budget year.

The money will go toward projects that were not completed in the current budget year. The county typically carries over funds every year.

Council also unanimously agreed to spend $84,000 to build a new baseball fence at Goodland Park. The park is in Springfield. Metts Contracting will do the work.

Council unanimously agreed to spend $79,083 to improve the slides at the Orangeburg and Santee water parks.

The work at the Orangeburg park is $37,278 and the work at the Santee park will cost $41,805.

Safe Slide Restoration will be contracted to do the work.

The slides have to be recoated in order to ensure proper performance. The slides will be repaired with fiberglass, Young said.

It is the first time in 12 years that the slides have had to be fixed.

Rezoning

Council gave unanimous first reading approval to rezoning property at 3160 North Road (the former Medicap Pharmacy building) from residential single family to commercial general for the purpose of establishing a commercial business.

Medicap Pharmacy closed earlier this year.

The current property owner desires to sell the property for commercial use.

The property had been grandfathered in to allow Medicap Pharmacy to continue. With the transfer to new ownership, the property’s non-conforming status would be lost, according to Orangeburg County Planning Director Amanda Sievers.

Four citizens expressed concerns about the type of business that would locate in the building.

The Orangeburg County Planning Commission voted 4-0 to approve the rezoning request.

In other rezonings:

• Council gave unanimous third and final reading to the rezoning of about five acres of property on Academy Lane in Holly Hill to residential general for the purpose of a residential development.

The property is located behind Avinger Funeral Home.

• Council gave unanimous third and final reading to rezoning 2272 Magnolia St. to residential general for the purpose of re-establishing and maintaining the character of the community.

The property is currently zoned commercial general.

Other business

• Council gave unanimous second reading to an amendment to the county's animal control ordinance to coincide with the implementation of the county's future trap, neuter and return program.

The county is looking to implement the program for feral or unowned, unsterilized cats.

• Council gave unanimous approval to a lease-purchase agreement with Caterpillar Financial Services Corporation for the purchase of heavy equipment from Blanchard Machinery Company.

The purchase is exempted from the county's procurement code. Normally the county puts such purchases out for bid, but in this case the county has dealt with Blanchard for years and has been satisfied with the company's prompt service.

• Council unanimously adopted updates to the county's National Hazard Mitigation Plan. The adoption of the updated plan is required for the county to receive grant funding for hazard response and mitigation.

The plan helps the county receive funds for such things as hurricane shutters and generators for critical response facilities, equipment purchases and programs to address flood-prone properties.

• Council read a resolution honoring Daniel Latrone Cheatham and Audrey Nichole Cheatham for their acts of heroism during an Aug. 23 fire that erupted at the family’s Corona Drive apartment.

Daniel Cheatham, 14, woke his 16-year-old sister Audrey and together they were able to save their 3-year-old brother, Isaiah, by jumping out of a second-floor window of the apartment.

Daniel and Audrey suffered injuries during the incident but their 3-year-old brother was uninjured.

• Council unanimously approved a proclamation recognizing the six-year cultural art exchange the Orangeburg-based Fine Arts Cultural Enrichment Teaching Studios (FACETS) group has had with the Dr. Samuel and Audrey Hunter Memorial Foundation and the Gifford Historical Museum and Cultural Center in a cultural exchange program with Indian River County, Florida.

This year's cultural exchange includes the painting of a Palmetto tree symbolizing South Carolina and a rose bush symbolizing the Edisto Memorial Gardens.

FACETS (a part of Clemson University's Public Services Activities) is a professional-development institute for artists, teachers and the public. FACETS has shared culture from Orangeburg and the state's Lowcountry with Florida through the cultural exchange program that started in 2009 between FACETS and the Vero Beach Museum of Art in Vero Beach, Florida.

• Orangeburg businesswoman and EmpowerHer American Businesswoman's Association national Vice President Rachelle Jamerson-Holmes requested council pass a resolution honoring the ABWA on Sept. 22 as American Businesswoman Day. The day recognizes all women and the efforts of working women.

Jamerson-Holmes owns Rachelle's Island and Thee Matriarch Bed and Breakfast in Orangeburg.

• Young said the Orangeburg County Library and Conference Center received a national award from the American Institute of Architects in design during a recent award presentation in North Carolina.

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