The Charleston County School District says they need more money to be competitive, but they don’t have a way to get it so they are turning to legislators for help.
CCSD says the problem is they don’t get much money from the state because Charleston is a richer district, and the idea is that they can get the money they need from the tax base, or the people who live in the county. But because of Act 388, they are limited on how much they can tax locally, so they aren’t able to make up the difference between state and local money, which means cuts to jobs and programs.
Charleston County School District Chief Financial Officer Glenn Stiegman, says, “The state requires us to raise salaries each year. This past year that cost us about $6.7 million just to raise them for teachers. We only got about $2.5-3 million dollars from the state for that because of our wealth. So we had to make it up locally.”
With no additional money coming in locally, that means jobs were cut and class sizes increased.
Stiegman says, “For this year, we cut about $18 million and it was all positions.”
Right now, homeowners who live in their homes are not taxed for schools. It only applies to businesses, rental properties, and secondary homes. Stiegman says they don’t want that to change, but they want the ability to have a higher increase in taxes on those who already pay it.
Stiegman says, “To repeal the formula for the raising of the taxes, not to put any taxes on the homeowners, the homeowners would pay zero. They would not pay any more at all. But we would have the flexibility to raise taxes.”
Basically, they want to adjust the rules to allow more leeway on taxes when there are mandatory salary increases. According to a report from the district, more than 80% of their budget is salaries and benefits, so they take a hard hit when the state requires higher salaries but doesn’t put up the money. So, they want the salary increase to be factored in when determining how much they are allowed to raise taxes.
Stiegman says, “We’re trying to get up there with using that percentage of increase and salary expenses, personnel costs, plus the CPI and we could put a ceiling on that, and that would generate more taxes for us and therefore more revenue.”
The school board will vote on Monday to approve a resolution that would be sent to the state asking them to change Act 388 to include those increased personnel costs in the calculations for tax increases.