Property tax hike possible to pay for new Horry County schools

Voters could see a question on the ballot this November about raising property taxes to pay for new schools in Horry County.

The Horry County school board has been discussing ways to address the overcrowding issue in the district.

"The biggest issues are within the Carolina Forest attendance area, the Socastee attendance area, and the St. James attendance areas of the county," said Horry County school board member Jeffrey Garland.

The board decided to building new schools and add onto existing ones.

Two plans are now being discussed by the board.

The first is a short-term building plan that will take place over the next seven years. It's a plan that was approved last fall.

A second plan was introduced earlier this year by board member Jeffrey Garland, after more current student enrollment figures came out.

Garland's plan adds onto the existing short-term plan, which does not meet the projected capacity needs.

In previous meetings, several board members have said they liked Garland's plan, because it would build three more schools than the other plan, although it would take ten years instead of seven. If the board decides to go with the ten-year plan, the county can afford it without increasing taxes or borrowing money.

However, some board members say ten years is too long. That the schools are needed now. So if Garland's plan is sped up, it would take a tax increase or borrowed money to pay for it.

"We need to decide on what projects we are going to do, and get them moving, so that we can start alleviating capacity problems we have right now, " Garland said.

If the board goes with a property tax increase, voters would make the decision on whether to approve that or not.

Garland said he believes the board could make a decision about which building plan to use as early as the end of May.