Murrells Inlet Garden City Fire Department proposes tax increase

MURRELLS INLET, SC (WMBF) - The Murrells Inlet Garden City Fire Department is asking for a tax increase to help them pay to staff a new fire station. A $500,000 was given to the department to build a fourth station, but the department doesn't anticipate having the funds to staff the station. If the new station isn't built, homeowners in the district's ISO ratings could rise.

The MIGCF Department met Monday night to get public opinion regarding the increase. Several local residents spoke in favor of the tax millage increase, while some were opposed. The department is asking for at least a two mill increase. If passed, the tax increase would cost a homeowner with a house worth $250,000, $25 extra in property taxes per year. The department said it would like a 10 mill increase to spread out throughout the years.

Senator Stephen Goldfinch said he'd like to hold off on this proposal until 2014.

"If we waited till January or February, we'd know where the economy was. We'd know whether the board actually needs the money or not. The board has admitted and I think they made it clear tonight, if the economy gets better they don't need this money," Senator Goldfinch said.

The millage cap currently sits at 10 mills. The cap hasn't changed since the early 1990's. The new millage cap needs approval from the taxpayer's and from the statehouse. Chairman of the board Al Hitchcock said he thought the feedback from the public hearing was positive.

"From what we saw in this room tonight, nobody had anything negative. They were all supportive. Some people wanted the two mills some people wanted the 10 mills," Hitchcock said.

"I think 10 mills is certainly out of line as far as what the board should have, what the board needs right now. They've made it clear they don't need 10 mills. I couldn't possibly support 10 mills right now. But I understand what he's trying to do. He's using that as a negotiating tool," Senator Goldfinch said.

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