Lexington County OKs small tax hike for fire protection

Most Lexington County homeowners will dig a little deeper in their wallets to pay for fire protection under a spending plan adopted Tuesday.

The tax hike initially approved by County Council is $2.15 on a home valued at $100,000 for taxes.

The increase will appear on tax bills sent this fall if the county’s spending plan of nearly $122 million receives final approval by mid-June.

Council members passed up other minor tax hikes allowed under state-imposed restrictions. “We try to hold it down, be responsible with taxpayers’ money,” Council chairman Johnny Jeffcoat of Irmo said.

The tax hike is designed to enable fire officials to build up to a half dozen new fire stations in coming years, facilities needed to reduce response time mainly in rural areas.

It won’t apply to residents of Batesburg-Leesville, Cayce and West Columbia, since those communities have their own firefighting forces.

The spending plan also includes money to add 18 county firefighters as well as other public safety staff – 10 paramedics and eight 911 dispatchers and call-takers.

It includes, too, a new $1.5 million training facility for firefighters.