Pickens Co. school board to consider tax hike for school repairs - FOX Carolina 21

Pickens Co. school board to consider tax hike for school repairs

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EASLEY, SC (AP) -  The Pickens Co. School District board Monday heard the public talk about the pros and cons of a property tax hike to fix local schools.

"These are needs, they are not wants," said district spokesman John Eby. He, along with the group Concerned Citizens for Pickens Co., argue raising the $5.8 million on property taxes would be in the best interest of students.

"This is for replacing things that are very fundamental to having a school and keeping it open," said Eby.
"Our current level of local funding is $5 million less than it was in 2007," said Robin Miller, founder of Concerned Citizens for Pickens Co. "We have an excellent school district, we have excellent teachers, and nurses, and guidance counselors and administrators -  and we just want to restore the school district."

Those opposed to the tax hike, including the group Conservatives of the Upstate, said Monday they want the board to put the issue to a referendum for the people to decide whether to raise taxes. They also claimed the money should come from Columbia to fix the schools.

"The state is responsible for education," said Junius Smith, the group's president.

 "Spending more money on education has not improved academic results at all," added Johnnelle Raines.

But Monday the school board said 'Yes' to refinancing a 2006 Building Program created to fund some of the improvement projects, including new schools and upgrades to existing schools. Refinancing the fund would free up about $3 million without raising the millage rate, but the district says to fund all the needed repairs, including roof replacements and air conditioning repairs, a tax increase is necessary. The district hopes to raise $5.8 million.

Eby argues that if the tax increase is not approved, some schools could shut down.

"Will the priorities be to keep every school open that we currently have? Will there be a decision to consolidate some of the schools? A lot of those things are on the table if it doesn't pass," said Eby.

Both sides have petititons posted. To sign in favor of the tax increase, click here. To sign in opposition to the tax hike, visit the following locations:

    GBS Lumber, 148 S. Main St. Six Mile SC

    Durham's Service Station, 132 S. Main St, Six Mile, SC

    Durham's Convenience Store, 3210 Walhalla Hwy., Six Mile SC

    Pickens Flea Market on Wednesdays

The board is scheduled to make a decision on the issue in March.

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