Updated: Travelers Rest City Council approves first of two votes on property tax increase

UPDATED (July 19, 2019):

TRAVELERS REST, S.C. — With a unanimous vote, Travelers Rest council members voted to approve the first reading of a measure to raise property taxes to pay for salary increases for city public safety workers. The second and final vote is schedule to take place at next month's council meeting.

Of note, the millage increase was reduced to 6 mills, or about $42.24 per year on the city's median household value, after city officials said they were able to use other sources of city revenue to help offset the needed pay increases.


TRAVELERS REST, S.C. — Travelers Rest council members will this week take the first of two votes on a measure to raise property taxes to pay for salary increases for city public safety workers. 

The measure calls for a 9.8 millage increase, or $68.99 per year on the city's median household value of $176,000. For the 2019-2020 budget, the millage increase would add an estimated $207,000 to the public safety budget to fund 36 fire and police worker salary increases.

According to city officials, fire and police salaries would increase by 14.1 percent, collectively. The increase to starting salaries for non-certified police would be 29.6 percent (from $29,313 to $38K). The increase to starting salaries for non-certified firefighters would be 23 percent (from $28,450 to $35K).

Officials say the salary increases are necessary to remain competitive with the likes of the Greenville County Sheriff's Office, where the starting salary was raised to $40K a few months ago.

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"As local government leaders, public safety is our top priority, and Travelers Rest City Council is committed to ensuring our public safety team is paid a fair wage to serve and protect our citizens and our homes," said Travelers Rest Mayor Brandy Amidon. 

She said for the past few years council has made efforts to reduce turnover rates of public safety employees, but that "they have felt like a training ground for people new to the profession" who would come to Travelers Rest to train and learn only then to move on to another municipality for higher pay.

"We realized that a tax increase was the only way to ensure our public safety salaries were competitive and that our current employees were valued for keeping us safe," Amidon said.

Travelers Rest would be the first municipality to respond to the county's salary increase, according to councilman Grant Bumgarner.

"We’re striving to be proactive, continuing to further build and maintain a dynamic police and fire workforce for the future," he said. "We want to be able to hire and maintain high quality officers and firefighters for consistent protection of the residents of Travelers Rest for generations to come."

Amidon said public input is encouraged by reaching out directly to council members or by attending the Thurs., July 18 council meeting. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. and time is allotted for official public input.

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