On top of higher prices for energy and other goods and services, Aiken County property taxes went up last year, thanks to the votes of a majority of Aiken County Council members.
The cruel thing is, they didn't need a tax increase; they slipped it in, figuring that since school operations were taken off owner-occupied residential home tax bills because of a change in state law, it was their best chance to raise taxes without the increase being felt as keenly.
To better express my disapproval of higher taxes, I became a member of the Aiken County Taxpayers Association. Since 2003, this educational, nonpartisan and nonprofit organization has been the voice of the taxpayers in Aiken County. We've been monitoring the activities of Aiken County's two taxing authorities: the Aiken County Council and the Aiken County school board.
Our monthly meetings have been varied, ranging from listening to guest speakers to holding taxpayer forums. Our 2006 taxpayers forum was for candidates running in contested races for seats in the South Carolina House of Representatives, and our 2007 forum was for candidates running for state Senate District 25.
Members of our group have spoken on various tax matters before the Aiken County legislative delegation.
From my perspective, the Aiken County Taxpayers Association has had numerous successes, including helping to oppose the proposed taxpayer-funded tax increment financing, or TIF, being considered by Aiken County Council back in 2005, and single-handedly opposing open-ended lease-purchase agreements being considered by the Aiken County school board.
I invite readers to join us. Come meet with us at 7 p.m. on the first Thursday of every month at the Aiken County Council building, 736 Richland Ave. West, in Aiken.
George Pixley, Aiken, S.C.