Charleston City Council votes increasing property taxes by $1.5 million

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Charleston City Council voted to move forward with the new 2019 budget on Tuesday night.

Council voted to amend the mayor’s proposed budget by increasing property taxes by 1.5 mills, which would give city employees a salary increase starting on Jan. 1 instead of July 1.

“I think that there were 12 council members sitting there, all of whom came in knowing that we would never pass a budget that did not include a raise full year for all of our employees,” Councilman Mike Seekings said.

Employees will see a salary increase between 6.31% and 8.73%, according to a spokesperson with the City of Charleston.

Property taxes will raise between $24 and $36 for City of Charleston residents.

Traditionally, the mayor will draft a budget and present it before city council, according to City of Charleston spokesperson Jack O’Toole.

But this year, the mayor has been working with a new budget committee to come up with the 2019 budget.

“I want to thank once again the budget committee and the budget committee process,” Tecklenburg said during Tuesday’s meeting. “I feel like it really was the most transparent and participatory budget process that we’ve seen in the city.”

O’Toole said the mayor’s budget did not include a general fund tax increase.

Tecklenburg’s budget did include a small tax increase for the city’s dedicated stormwater fund.

O’Toole said that money will be used for projects to combat flooding. O’Toole also said the mayor’s budget will include a small tax increase for the city’s dedicated public infrastructure fund, which will be used to build two new fire stations.

During the meeting, several council members said they were happy with how the budget committee was included in the budget process this year.

“I think it increased transparency a lot,” Seekings said. “It also increased the learning curve for all of us who were involved in the process because we got to hear from the committee heads and the department heads who are running the city on what the needs are.”

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