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What budget increases in Richland County could mean for taxpayers and renters

In the second reading of the council's FY 2024 budget, council members discussed plans to increase tax rates.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — There was a crowded room inside Richland County Council chambers Thursday as council members considered over 100 motions for the second reading of their budget. 

The first items up for discussion were requests from millage agencies, including the Recreation Commission, Columbia Area Mental Health, Richland Library, and Midlands Technical College. Money for Columbia Area Mental Health totaled over $2 million and was given approval by the council.

According to Richland County Deputy Auditor Alan Brown, that approval means more money from taxpayers. For residential homeowners with a $100,000 property, the increase will be 40 cents, and for commercial properties, that number is 60 cents, also an increase of 12 cents for a vehicle of $20,000 in value.

Though these numbers may appear small, District Seven Council Member Gretchen Barron said the numbers can add up and may indirectly impact renters, too.

"It is important to note that everyone does not own a home," Barron said. "But, they are going to be impacted financially by the decisions that we make tonight."

Councilmembers also voted in favor of an increase in money going to the Richland Library. For that, homeowners with a $100,000 property can expect an increase of $2.80, and commercial properties could see an increase of $4.20 and $00.80 on a $20,000 vehicle.

The council did vote against some increases, including one that would go to Midlands Technical College, which would have increased the tax rate by $00.80 for residential homes of $100,000 and $1.20 for a $100,000 commercial property.

Council Chair Overture Walker says agencies that don't receive funding from mill rates could still find funding elsewhere.

"I'm hoping that we can find another source of revenue that we will be able to make them whole to meet their requests without having to increase the mill."

Council also voted in favor of a 5% increase in rates for the landfill and a 5% increase in trash collection rates, which were discussed in an April 30th budget workshop meeting.

None of these numbers are final, as the board has its third and final budget reading on June 6th.

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