Town Council budget vote yields property tax hike

The Batesburg-Leesville Town Council last week passed the Town $8.1 million budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year, and local homeowners will feel it in their pocketbooks next year.

The Council convened at a midweek meeting after a couple of contentious work sessions in which the ongoing quest for a reliable water supply and budget shortfalls caused by the COVID-19 shutdown and loss of revenue dominated the conversation. The new budget passed on a 6-2 vote, with Council members Steve Cain and Bob Hall voting against the spending plan presented.

“I cannot vote for anything that raises taxes on our citizens,” Councilman Cain said during the 8-minute meeting.

Homeowners in the Batesburg-Leesville municipal limits likely will see their property taxes increase by around $40 because of reassessment by Lexington County and because the Town opted into the legal opportunity to keep millage rates the same even as the value of one mill increased. The Town was required by law to roll back its millage rate with reassessment but can roll it back up as needed.

“You will have those building owners that see no change in their assessed value, some may go down in assessed value, some may slightly have increased, and some may have significant increases from the reassessment process,” Town Manager Ted Luckadoo said. “The millage rate was 99.5 and will remain 99.5 after rollback/roll up. For those whose reassessment went down, they will still see a lower tax bill. For those whose reassessment value remained the same, their bill will remain the same as it was (from a town portion standpoint). For those whose assessed value slightly increased, they would see an increase due to the rollback up.”

For example, Mr. Luckadoo said, “if a previously $100,000 assessed home (primary residence 4 percent), which had a municipal tax of $398, were increased to $110,000 in assessed value, it would now have a municipal tax of $437.80. This is an annual increase to their tax bill of $39.80.”
Town Council is scheduled to meet again on the second Monday.