Conway approves first tax increase in nearly 20 years

CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - If you own property in Conway, you'll need to shell out more money to cover your taxes.

Conway property owners will see a 2.1 mill increase on the tax bills that will be sent out in October. That translates to $16.80 more for a $200,000 home.

Conway City Administrator Bill Graham says since the last property reassessment in 2010, the city lost more than half a million dollars in property tax revenue. To avoid another revenue hit of that magnitude, city council approved the tax increase. It's an expense home and business owners said they don't mind paying.

Mark Stanley, a city home and business property owner, says, "We pay already an increased amount of taxes because we also live within the city limits of Conway. Our property taxes are much higher than what they are in the county, but also, you get a lot of the amenities that comes with living in the city as well, so it's a give and take."

Craig Smith, a city home owner, says, "If you look at what we get in this community, as compared to other small communities, our Christmas decorations will rival any small town and programs that's continually done here, somebody has to pay for them, and all these benefits the city in the long run."

Twenty million dollars of the city's $30 million budget is dedicated to the general fund. Bill Graham says the money collected from the tax increase will go into that general fund. It's money used to provide for the city, and that includes Coastal Carolina University.

Smith explains, "Coastal has grown close to about 10,000 students now, which has a very big financial impact on our community. We need more and more businesses to open."

Since CCU is a huge contributor to Conway's economy, general funds are spent there.

Just last week, Conway invested $500,000 for a boardwalk at CCU.

Some question if the cost to pay for that will come from the property tax revenue, but Graham says this tax increase was not specifically be put in place to fund that project.

Graham says the adjustment of the millage rate was to ensure the city would stay on a sound financial footing moving forward. It will also hopefully help the city avoid a higher property tax or fees in the future.

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