News You Can Use – Charleston County Housing Referendums

Here is some background on the Charleston County Housing Referendums found on the November ballot and FAQs associated with the referendum provided by the Charleston Area Justice Ministry.

There will be two housing trust fund questions on your ballot under the “Local Questions” section. The first question will ask: “Shall Charleston County Council levy a two mill tax in Charleston County to fund a Local Housing Trust Fund…” If approved, this will raise $8 million dollars per year for a housing trust fund explicitly for affordable housing in Charleston county. This will enable at least 400 newly available units per year.

The second question will ask: “Shall Charleston County Council issue not exceeding $130M of general obligation bonds…” This General Obligation bond is to borrow the money necessary to begin funding the housing trust fund right away. The bond would be then paid back from the millage increase income.

Here are some FAQs:

● What is a “mill”?

A mill is the rate of tax used to calculate local property taxes. A tax bill includes a number of technical terms, including millage rate, assessment rate, and assessed value. One mill is equal to one-thousandth of a dollar per $1 of assessed property value.

● How much am I going to pay in taxes?

You will only be paying increased taxes if you’re a property owner in Charleston County. The increase will only be $8 for every $100,000 of property value. As an example, let’s say you own $500,000 worth of property. That’s less than $50 a year.

● How much money is the millage increase supposed to raise?

The referendum will raise approximately $8,000,000 million per year totaling an estimated $80,000,000 in aggregate over a period of ten years.

● Where is the money going to go?

Ideally, the fund will be housed in the South Carolina Community Loan Fund (SCCLF). The funds are legally required to be administered by a nonprofit organization. Once the millage increase passes, there will be a request for proposal process (RFP) in which organizations can apply. We are confident the SCCLF will pass that RFP and be chosen as the organization to house the funds.

● I’m concerned about the administration of the funds.

The Mescher Act (2007) passed by the South Carolina Legislature provides a road map for implementation and guidelines for the operation and accountability of local Housing Trust Funds in S.C. The administrator of the Lowcountry Housing Fund will be a nonprofit organization that will provide an annual report to Charleston County Council. This report will be available to the public.

-Information provided by Bill Thomas and Charleston Area Justice Ministry

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