2006-12-18 / Local News

New law will eliminate school operations from tax bill

By SCOTT POWELL Ledger Staff Writer spowell@gaffneyledger.com

Cherokee County residents didn’t see any change in their school taxes when they received their property tax bills this year.

While five of the seven Spartanburg school districts approved large tax increases, the Cherokee County School District’s millage rate remains at 156 mills - the same level it’s been since 2002 when a 28-mill tax increase took effect. School districts have made the adjustments because of uncertainty over how their finances will be impacted by state property tax relief approved by state lawmakers in June.

There will be a more dramatic change when next year’s tax bills arrive.

Effective June 1, 2007, homeowners will no longer see school operation costs on their property tax bills. The state’s sales tax will increase from 5 to 6 cents next year as lawmakers attempt to keep school districts funded at their current levels.

“We aren’t really sure what the financial outcome will be for the school district in the future,” finance director Jim Bridges said.

School districts will be reimbursed dollar for dollar for property tax revenue in 2007. A formula will be used to determine how money is distributed to school districts in future years.

The new law limits school districts from approving tax increases beyond the rate of inflation and population growth.

The Cherokee County School District has seen minimal growth in student enrollment over the past decade.

“Our growth rate is 3.5 percent. Teacher salaries are expected to go up 3.3 percent next year,” Bridges said. “There is a risk that school district expenses will outpace revenue growth in the next few years.”

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