Kershaw County, SC (WLTX) – Residents in Kershaw County may see an increase in property taxes to foot the bill for Emergency Medical Services.
“I don’t think county council has looked at this at every angle,” Vic Dabney of Citizens Against New Taxes said of the proposed tax hike.
“The choice was accepting that or losing a hospital,” County Administrator Vic Carpenter explained of funding EMS.
Carpenter said the hospital, Kershaw Health used to oversee EMS. However, Carpenter said once the hospital was privatized a few years ago, the deal was that the county would fund the EMS.
The current proposed budget shows that EMS needs $3,405,594 to operate.
Carpenter said the county needed more than $1 million to meet EMS’ operation costs.
County Council has proposed a 5.1 mill property tax increase.
“Revenue can only come from basically one source and that’s taxation. We are mandated to fund EMS. We’ve got to provide that for our citizens. This mileage will only cover the EMS shortfall,” County Councilman Dennis Arledge said.
Carpenter said if a person has a home worth $100,000, they might expect to pay $20.
“Money in the reserve money and there's probably money in other programs,” Dabney said. “Even though it's just a small increase, it's an increase.”
Dabney said he believes council has other areas to use to cover this cost.
According to the county’s audit as of June 30, 2016, the unassigned fund balance was at $10,908,410 and the total fund balance was at $14,687,169.
However Arledge said there is no extra money and using reserves is “not a sound accounting practice.”
Arledge added that collecting EMS fees is also a huge issue and if everyone who utilized the services paid their bills, EMS might not have such a huge deficit.
“They wouldn’t have to pay it in their tax bill,” the councilman admitted.
“Every little bit adds up,” Dabney said. “Where do you draw the line.”
The tax hike and budget will be discussed at county council's next meeting on June 13.
You might remember, voters agreed to a penny sales tax in November for school improvements.