Garden City holds public hearing on proposed property tax - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Garden City holds public hearing on proposed property tax

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Garden City residents are voicing their opinions over a proposed property tax. Monday night was the first of three public hearings on the matter.

Garden City does not have a property tax right now, and it never has. Now, the city finds itself searching for funds with a property tax as an option; a solution that has seemingly divided the constituents.

One after the other Garden City residents and business owners stood before the city council, speaking for and against a proposed property tax.

"How long do you think eight people can hold up to service this entire area?" asked one resident.

"I'm begging you folks, try to hold off on this property tax. You have got some land over here on highway 80 that you can sell off," suggested another resident at Monday's meeting.

In its 75 years, Garden City has never had a property tax. A majority of the revenues came from the Local Option Sales Tax, fees, fines and forfeitures.

The city says that money will not stretch enough to cover much needed expenses, like health care cost increases, police and fire needs, capital improvements, or an across the board pay increase for city employees.

"We just can keep putting out services without money and income," said Mayor Tennyson Holder.

The proposed increase is 4 mills or 4 dollars for every thousand dollars of taxable property. However, if your home is valued at $100,000 or less, you will not have to pay a dime, because only 40 percent is taxable, and that would be offset by the proposed $40,000 Homestead Exemption.

Commercial property owners, like Sherrye Winkler, say they cannot afford to pay more taxes. "Time has come. If you are old and on a fixed income, they do not need to be rasing taxes," said Winkler.

Many criticized the new multi-million dollar city hall. Saying at the meeting, "We got a pile of money. We built this palace. This place is an albatras."

While some suggested cuts, others say there is barely enough to work with as it is.

"I have a hard time trying to explain to my guy why he can't have a new bullet proof vest, because the one he has is a hand-me-down not made for him in the first place. "Sorry, we don't have any money; deal with it,"" said Ben Selph, with the Garden City Police Department.

The council itself seems to be divided as well. Three council members made it clear they were against property taxes. The mayor and another council member seem to support it. Two have not made their positions clear yet.

The city will have two more hearings before making a final vote in June.

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