Supporters hold rally for FSD1 $198 million referendum, those opposed speak out

Students First rally on FSD1 bond referendum

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - A vote on the nearly $200 million referendum to improve schools in Florence School District One is right around the corner.

An organization called “Students First” held the first of multiple rallies on Monday night in support of the referendum. However, there are also people who said they are against the proposed plan.

“Vote No” and “Vote Yes” signs have been plastered all throughout Florence District One.

Those for the $198 million plan said this is what’s needed to improve the school district and the area overall. But those voting “no” are concerned about the substantial tax increase the plan will bring and how the money will be handled.

The referendum, if passed, would fund four new schools, security improvements and new athletic facilities for all 3 high schools.

“I just see the need for our buildings to be upgraded and at the pace that we’re going, we’re just not going to get to them fast enough,” Robert LeMaster, chairman of Students First, said.

LeMaster, who has two kids in the school district, said he’s for it because there’s a great need for upgrades, especially with safety and security.

“We’ve got a safety issue there as well with our mobile units, again those our problems that have just gotten bigger over the years and we need to address them as quickly as possible,” he said.

Meanwhile, Devlin Curl, who has a child at Williams Middle School said he’s checking “no,” making it a point to add that just because someone opposes the referendum doesn’t mean they’re against improving education for students.

“If you vote yes, you are voting to put our kids in perpetual debt, as well as all our businesses around town,” Curl said.

Compass Municipal Advisors calculated the raise. It shows on the low end an owner’s property valued at $50,000 will see an annual increase of $67 at a possible 5% interest rate. Property valued at $200,000 will increase $268.

While LeMaster said there’s a valid concern for the hike in taxes, people need to look at the bigger picture the plan could bring to the area.

“I think that over time given those upgrades and improvements in our school system I think we can attract business, we can attract people, um we can add more to our population which increases the tax base,” he said.

But, Curl thinks otherwise.

“They’re coming here for cheap labor and right to work state, that’s why they’re coming and low taxes. They have no desired to come here for any other reason, but if you take that away why stop here just go on right passed us to Florida,” Curl said.

People will vote on the referendum Feb. 26. If passed, tax payers won’t see an increase until the year 2021.

Copyright 2019 WMBF. All rights reserved.