By Betsy Finklea
Dillon County Board of Education Chairman Richard Schafer was one of those signed up to speak at the public hearing at the Dillon County Council meeting on Wednesday, June 28th; however, he was barely able to make any presentation. Below are some of the things he planned to cover during his presentation.
Schafer said he first had confirmation that the school would no longer be receiving the Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) money when he was contacted by The Dillon Herald about an article they planned to print on the matter. He said he had had no contact or no notice from county officials prior to the Herald’s article coming out. He had heard rumors that this might occur, but had not received anything official.
Schafer said it has since been stated to him that there were some members of council who did not believe that the school receiving this money was legal; however, Schafer said it must be legal because it was noted in the Dillon County Audit Report. He said he as a private citizen requested minutes from the meeting on September 1, 1995 where council voted to give half of the monies to the schools if the referendum passed; however, he says he is now told that these minutes are missing and have not been found. Schafer said, however, that notes of this meeting have been discovered, and they confirm what an article in The Dillon Herald which has the council’s vote to give the schools a division of funds stated. Schafer said he has a great deal of information in regards to this issue.
Schafer said the schools have been receiving these funds since 1996 and now all of a sudden, some members of council are trying to reach out and snatch this $319,000 which is pledged to the repayment of the 40-year loan to construct the new school buildings. He said the schools are doing exactly what the voters voted on.
Schafer said the main purpose of this referendum was giving 71 percent tax relief to the voters.
He said if the county takes away these funds then the schools will have to go up five mills which is violating the full faith of the referendum and the intention of the voters and will be taking back a part of the 71 percent of tax relief, in his opinion. He said it takes back what the voters gave them and forces a millage increase because by law the auditor has to fully fund debt service.
Schafer said at this point both the Dillon County Board of Education Business Manager Doug Broome and the Dillon District Four Business Manager Art McMillan have told him that it is their opinion that the county board cannot bill the individual districts for the funds to come out of their operating budgets. He said if they find out to the contrary and that it can legally be done, $200,000 will come out of District Four’s operating budget and $100,000 will come out of Latta’s operating budget. Otherwise, there will be a mandated, forced tax increase caused by this situation.
By Betsy Finklea