School tax hike of 8.7 mills

9/5/12 0630


Oconee County Council chose to raise school taxes to offset a lower than anticipated Duke Energy tax payment for 2012. The council vote last night was 4 to 1, with Wayne McCall opposed. The council acted after an appeal by County Superintendent Mike Lucas to remember the children and consideration of four scenarios, as outlined by Auditor Ken Nix. In the end, the council chose to approve the second scenario, which cuts $500 thousand from the general county budget, but leaves intact an additional two million dollars of local funds for the public schools. McCall questioned why the district would not tap its fund balance for the two million. At one point, Paul Corbeil motioned in favor of the auditor’s number three scenario, which would have had the effect of slicing in half the district’s general school tax increase, but the District One councilman’s motion died for lack of a second. It was then that Archie Barron motioned, and Chairman Joel Thrift seconded, for scenario two which passed with only McCall’s exceptions. Councilmen complained that by waiting until last week to announce Duke’s assessment for this year, the state Department of Revenue threw a monkey wrench into the county’s budgets which were approved on time for the fiscal year that started July 1.