Conflict brews over Beaufort County millage rate - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Conflict brews over Beaufort County millage rate

BEAUFORT CO., SC (WTOC) -

The Beaufort County school board and Beaufort County council are at odds over the millage rate council has proposed for fiscal year 2015.

Board members had some strong words for county council, calling them snakes and bullies, and said they don't care about the students in the district. 

All of this debate comes over the county's mill rate. The board says the rate council proposed is too low and could hurt the district in the long run. 

In June, county council approved $190 million for the school district, $114.9 million of that is supposed to come from taxes, but the board says that's impossible now. 

"We believe they're setting a mill rate that will not produce $114.9 million out of local taxes. That's what our concern is," says Bill Evans, school board chair. 

County council's proposed mill rate is 103.5 mills. The board says the mill rate needs to be at least 105 mills in order to get the $114.9 county council approved. 

"This is not a game and what county council is doing is they're playing a game because they perceive themselves to be in power and in control," said Michael Rivers, school board member. 

Councilman Brian Flewelling disagrees. 

WTOC spoke with Flewelling by phone Tuesday night. He said, "I don't know what their problem is. It's not the school boards responsibility to determine those rates, and for the school district to allow their school board members to be uninformed is wrong and I'll do what I can to correct it." 

Flewelling says the district will get all of the money approved because there is still tax money owed from fiscal years 2011, 2012 and 2013, which council is anticipating the county will collect in 2015. But Flewelling also doesn't know how much money will be collected and neither does the district.

Evans says they're going to keep pushing council to raise the millage rate until the final vote on Sept. 22. If it isn't raised, the district will have some tough decisions to make. 

"We'll have to decide what we're going to do. Whether we just wait until the spring and see if we're coming up short or whether we're going to start cutting back now because we're certain we're going to come up short," says Evans. 

County council will have a second vote on the millage rate Monday, Sept. 8, and the final reading will be Sept. 22. 

Evans is encouraging all board members and parents to attend both meetings.

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