A Year's Delay
Delay Approved: reassessment of land for tax purposes is postponed for year.
Laurens County property will undergo tax reassessment twice in the next four years with action last Tuesday night of the county council.
Reassessing all parcels in the county has been difficult during the Coronavirus-COVID-19 pandemic, the council was told.
County Assessor David Satterfield asked for - and was granted - a one-year delay on the 2020 reassessment. That means after the 2021 reassessment, taxpayers will see another reassessment four years later. Property must be reassessed for tax purposes every five years.
“It will be a tax increase for some people,” Council Vice-chairman Joe Wood said.
County Administrator Jon Caime said he expects his, and his neighbors’, property to assess higher (increase in value) but other properties will assess lower. For the most part, Caime said, it averages out.
In any event, no county can receive “a windfall” from reassessment, based on state law, Caime said. The tax millage rate will be lowered to keep tax collections income within a state-law restriction.
Reassessment deals with the reality that some properties increase in value (next to new subdivisions, new schools etc) over time, while some properties (unkept, next to a nuisance, etc) decrease in value over time.
Reassessment must be “tax-neutral” for local governments, the council was told.
Satterfield said the unique travel restrictions of the coronavirus - and a since-fixed computer glitch - have hurt reassessment efforts. Council voted 6-0-1 for the delay - councilmember Brown Patterson abstained.
Wood said each time he has dealt with Satterfield’s office on property matters he has found the staff very helpful. There are 49,000 land-parcels in Laurens County.
Caime agreed with Wood that owners of second homes (lake houses, for instance) and rentals are hardest hit by the state’s property tax law. “As a whole,” Caime said of reassessment, “people in the county should not pay more taxes.”
“I don’t see how you can say that,” Wood said. “It will be a tax increase for some (taxpayers).”
In other business, council received a COVID-19 update, indicating new cases have been mostly in the single digits for the past 14 days. “The citizens have really done a great job out there mitigating the numbers,” said Joey Avery, emergency management director.
A report on boards and commission recommended looking at doing away with two boards as unnecessary - the Construction Board of Appeals and the Mobile Home Review Board. Duties of these - if they should arise - can be handled by the Laurens County Planning Commission, the council was told.
Council gave second reading approval to an ordinance extending the BMW fee-in-lieu-of-taxes, for $2.5 million in equipment stored in Laurens County locations.
This is one of three FILOT (economic development) matters the council will deal with during October and November. Ordinances require three council readings and a public hearing (this is BMW’s 4th agreement with the county).
Council granted easements, for small fees, to Century Link for land at the Cross Hill 2 fire station, and to the Laurens County Water and Sewer Commission for the Hwy 221 South - Stagecoach Road fire station.
A capital request by the Laurens County EMS was granted - the service will spend up to $135,000/annual for four monitors, five stretchers, three power lifts, two CPS assistance machines; overall, a 3-year lease-purchase at 0% interest.
Two EMS power lifts will be given to the Laurens County Coroner’s Office.
Coroner Vickie Cheek said the donation is a great help to her, and to the assistant coroners, in lifting and transporting bodies. EMS funds these equipment purchases through a 2-mil tax designation for capital needs.
(The Laurens County Council’s next meeting will be October 13.)