The Rock Hill School District is proposing a property tax increase for the 2017-18 budget, with some of the new revenue going toward salary step increases and new positions.
The proposed increase, which would have to be approved by the Rock Hill school board, would amount to $36 more in taxes each year on a $100,000 business or non-owner occupied home, or rental property, said Mychal Frost, spokesperson for the district.
That increase will generate about $1.6 million in new revenue for the district, said Terri Smith, chief financial officer.
The district kicked off a series of public meetings Monday night as the school board reviewed a preliminary $151.7 million budget.
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The tax increase will not affect homeowners due to Act 388, South Carolina’s property tax reform measure, which replaced a tax levy on primary residences with a one-cent sales tax increase on most retail purchases to pay for school operations. Act 388 left many school districts short on revenue, resulting in spending cuts.
The district says it has not requested a tax increase in two years.
“Tax increases pain me greatly, but the state has tied our hands,” said board member Terry Hutchinson, referring to Act 388.
The balanced budget assumes the property tax increase and an increase of $85 in base student cost. The new base student cost, $2,435 per student, would bring the district $620,874 more compared to the current school year, Smith said.
The $85 is the current senate-proposed increase, Smith said. Rock Hill schools receive 75 percent of the base student cost from the state. The rest has to come from local revenue.
The budget factors in a mandated salary step increase for teachers, costing $1.1 million, employer health premium and retirement rate increases and utility cost increases. It includes salary step increases for eligible non-certified employees ($400,000) and eliminates a 15 percent salary reduction ($544,000) for retired teachers who still serve in the district, Smith said.
Rock Hill is the only district that reduces retiree salaries by 15 percent, Smith said.
“District administration feels it is very important to eliminate (this),” she said. “We are in a teacher shortage and that is going to continue to get worse and this will just help us retain some of those retirees in the hardest areas of recruiting our teachers.”
The budget also includes the addition of one specialized teacher for hearing impaired students and the move of two occupational therapists from part time to full time. The changes, costing $157,000, are a requirement of a special education audit completed earlier this year, Smith said.
Additional positions added to the budget include six full-time employees for the three high schools to meet growth, an alternative program English teacher and four immersion and inquiry program positions.
The proposed budget also allocates $200,000 for student activity supplies, one of the items recommended in the district’s Student Activity Study, Smith said.
A second presentation on the budget will be made at 4 p.m. May 22 at Saluda Trail Middle School. Presentations will also be made at 3 p.m. May 24 at York Road Elementary School and at 4 p.m. May 25 at Rock Hill High School.