Property tax bills are going up a bit in Lexington County.
County Council settled on a $107.3 million spending plan Thursday financed by tax hikes estimated to add $10.63 to the bill for the owner of a $100,000 home.
The tax increase will pay mainly for 10 new firefighters, five more deputies to patrol roads and six additional jail guards.
That new public safety staff “is not a lot, but it certainly would help,” Sheriff James Metts told council members.
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The tax increase is about two-thirds of the maximum raise allowed under a state tax cap, and similar to the amount approved a year ago.
It won acceptance 6-3, with councilmen Bobby Keisler Jim Kinard and Frank Townson opposed.
The extra public safety staff is necessary but the addition should be spread out over a few years to avert higher taxes, Kinard said.
Expanding that staff more slowly is short-sighted, other council members said.
“We continue to try to skimp by,” Councilman Johnny Jeffcoat of Irmo said. “You can’t continue to put Band-Aids on everything.”
Jeffcoat, who handily defeated a Tea Party leader at Tuesday’s primary election, urged the all-Republican council to stand up to anti-tax crusades. “Don’t let them think they scare you,” he said.
The spending plan takes effect July 1, with related tax increases included on bills sent homeowners and business operators in the fall.
Other key features in the package include:
No pay raises for the county’s 1,300 employees. A suggestion by council chairman Bill Banning to add a raise for countywide elected officials and magistrates — most of whom earn between $60,000 and $80,000 annually — went nowhere.
Use of $3 million in savings so plans to build a $13.4 million emergency operations center can proceed.
Addition of $28,500 for equipment and set-up so that council sessions and other meetings can be broadcast online starting this fall.
Reach Flach at (803) 771-8483.