Just three months ago, Chesterfield County Council members were chastised by taxpayer Mary Powe of Pageland for not allowing taxpayers in Chesterfield County the option of making installment payments on their taxes. An advantage, she said, South Carolina law makers made provisions for in the 1970s.
Apparently, Powe’s voice, and others, have now been heard. According to Denise Douglass, administrator for Chesterfield County Council, February’s agenda includes a public hearing on a proposed ordinance to give Chesterfield County residents that option.
The hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6, at the Chesterfield County Courthouse, during the monthly meeting of Chesterfield County Council. “Any person wishing to comment in favor of or in opposition to this proposed ordinance is encourage to attend,” said Douglass.
Powe complained directly to council last fall after her request to the treasurer’s office to make payments was denied. Powe said she had been made to feel “like gum on the bottom of your shoe.”
The law to which Powe referred is found under the Code of Laws of South Carolina 1976 Annotated, Title 12, Taxation, Chapter 45. The first paragraph (A) (1) reads: “The governing body of a county may by ordinance allow each taxpayer owning a parcel of taxable real property within the county the option to pay property taxes in installments as provided in this section. An installment election is not allowed for taxes paid through an escrow account.”
Chesterfield County Treasurer Kathy Sheeler said she was well aware of the law. But the law also specifically states, she said, that each county create an ordinance allowing the treasurer’s office to alter its means of collecting taxes. “We’ve never accepted installment payments because County Council has never passed an ordinance giving us the authority to do so.”
According to the law, ordinances created to allow partial payments directly to the county treasurer’s office must follow specific payment schedules. A portion of paragraph (B) from the South Carolina statues says: “An installment payment is based on the total property tax due for the previous property tax year, after applying all applicable credits and adjustments reflecting reduced value as determined by the county assessor. An amount equal to sixteen and two-thirds percent of the estimated property tax obligation must be paid to the county treasurer in each of five installments … .”
— Staff Writer Karen Kissiah can be reached by calling 843-537-5261, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.