Aiken County Council sets millage rate for 2023 fiscal year

·3 min read

Aug. 17—Aiken County's millage rate, which is used to calculate property taxes, is holding steady.

A resolution passed unanimously by Aiken County Council on Tuesday set the figure for fiscal year 2023 at 67.3 mills, the same as it was for fiscal year 2022.

Avoiding an increase "was a main goal in our budget deliberations (which were completed in June), so it is evident that the assumptions that we dialed into the budget gave us the result we were looking for," said County Council Chairman Gary Bunker following the panel's meeting at the Aiken County Government Center.

"Given the inflation that everybody is facing right now from higher gas prices and higher food prices, the last thing that council wanted to do was impose additional taxes on the citizens of Aiken County," he added. "Now certainly, we do have challenges at the county level in terms of trying to cover the cost of fuel because we are facing inflation, too, but what we wanted to do for the citizens of Aiken County is to try to find out how to cover those additional costs internally without burdening the taxpayers. And we did that."

Responding to a question during the informal part of Tuesday's meeting, when members of the public can address County Council, County Administrator Clay Killian said that North Augusta's Materials Recovery Recycling Facility had "just recently" started accepting items such as plastic bottles and aluminum cans from the county's residential collection and recycling centers.

After a large fire disrupted operations at the North Augusta facility last November, the county started transporting many recyclables from its centers to the Three Rivers Waste Authority Regional Landfill at the Savannah River Site.

The county continued to recycle pieces of scrap metal, appliances and tires because they were being sent to facilities other than the one in North Augusta.

Seven County Council members were present at Tuesday's meeting, and two participated via telephone.

Prior to that gathering, County Council's Development Committee met and considered a suggestion for the county to hire a firm to assist it with building inspections.

Following a discussion and a polling of panel members, the committee's chairman, Andrew Siders, recommended that Killian "move forward" with finding outside help.

Joel Duke, chief development officer for the county, said the Planning and Development Department has three open building inspection positions and is "having trouble" filling them.

"We don't think it's a dollar issue," he continued. "We think we're competitive, but we just don't have a whole lot of applicants."

In addition, the number of houses being built locally has risen significantly.

"Before 2020, we were seeing a steady increase in the number of new housing units being constructed and we were somewhere around 750 annually," said Duke, who also is an assistant county administrator.

Since then, the annual total has grown to "somewhere around or over 1,000, so we're busy," he reported.

"We've worked the backlog (of building permit requests) down recently," Duke added. But the wait for a permit "is still longer than it has been historically," he said.

It is approximately two to three weeks now when obtaining authorization for the construction of a new structure.

In the past, the wait usually was less than a week, "two to three days," according to Duke.

Permits also are required for other work such as renovations and the addition of small accessory structures.

Requests for them "have increased as well," Duke said.