LAURENS, S.C. (WSPA) – An Upstate school district hopes some specific numbers will help voters decide what a $109 million bond referendum would mean for them. Laurens County School District 55 will use the money to build a new high school and make updates to other facilities. The analysis breaks down the potential tax increase amounts and how Laurens County would compare to other parts of the upstate.
“The little people will be hurt by this,” said Keith Tripp. “The poor people will be hurt the most.” He is helping lead an effort against paying for facility upgrades and building a brand new high school. “It hasn’t been proven that there was a need for building of a new school building,” said Tripp.
Laurens District 55 leaders say seeing the current 40-year-old building makes the need for change very clear.
“Our current high school is overcrowded. We have teachers holding classrooms in our commons area,” said Board of Trustees Vice Chair Terri Martin. “There’s a lot of misconception throughout the county about what the tax increase would be.”
The district’s analysis charts an annual increase of $81 for a $100,000 home to an increase of over $400 for a $500,000 home. For Laurens County’s $86,078 median home value, the district shows a $77 increase.
“So that people in the community can see for themselves that it’s not going to be as big a burden as what’s being portrayed,” said Martin.
A burden they say would leave Laurens among the lowest upstate tax rates. Tripp says for the county’s poorest, it’s still too hard to bear.
“It’s what we pay here that’s of interest to people in Laurens County,” said Tripp. “They need to understand that this is not Greenville County, it’s not Spartanburg County, it’s not Anderson, not Abbeville, this is Laurens County. The per capita income of Greenville County is way different than Laurens County.”
The district says these numbers can’t be exact because each county varies. They say the Facility Projects Advisory Committee, made up of community members, is working on a more complete plan that’ll be presented to voters. Laurens county voters head to the polls September 5th.