FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) – People in Florence voted against putting $198 million toward Florence District One schools.
With all precincts reporting, the results came out to 74.83 percent voted against the referendum while 25.17 percent voted in favor of it.
The vote was a highly contentious one, with threats even being made toward the school district’s superintendent and people who were in favor of the referendum.
The $198 million plan would have funded four new schools, security improvements and new athletic facilities for all three high schools.
But those against the plan were concerned about a substantial tax increase and the money would have been handled.
Compass Municipal Advisors calculated how much the referendum would have increased taxes. It showed on the low end an owner’s property valued at $50,000 would have seen an annual increase of $67 at a possible five percent interest rate. Property valued at $200,000 will increase $268.
“South Carolina does not want higher taxes on their boats, motorcycles, home, commercial property, residential property," resident Beverly Surma said.
Surma admitted some schools in the district could use some improvements.
“Maybe some security and some changes to the schools, but frankly they didn’t have to tear down the five to build the schools they built in the past," Surma said.
She said there has to be a less expensive way.
“We’ve built 5 schools in 6 years I feel like they can keep doing that if they don’t have the money now they can wait a few years until they get more," Surma said.
While school board members head back to the drawing board, Surma suggested another plan of consolidating all Florence County Schools District into one.
“There’s many ways to show transparency. I think the superintendent is trying to be transparent, but the ways of New Jersey on passing high property taxes on people don’t fly.”
Students First, an organization in support of the referendum sent a statement on the results saying quote, "We are disappointed for the time being... the needs of students and teachers are unable to be met.