Charleston City Council approves $3.4 million tax hike

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) In a 7-to-6 vote Tuesday night, Charleston City Council approved a $3.4 million tax hike. The measure will add 19 new officers to Charleston elementary schools.

For several hours, dozens of people spoke during public comment with Charleston County School District Superintendent Dr. Nancy McGinley first taking to the microphone.

"New safety measures are not just necessary. There are imperative," she said.

Mayor Joe Riley said Tuesday's move will allow for the additional officers to be in place for both public and private schools by Aug. 15.

"In a matter of moments, there are three police officers descending on that school and if somebody bad is in there, they are going in there and taking them out," said Riley.

Some critics argued against the tax increase, citing a knee-jerk reaction to the shooting tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary.

"Look inside the money pot you have -- your current budget and carve out a way to put additional cops on the street," said Mary Ann Taylor, who spoke against the tax increase.

For those who own a $250,000 house, homeowners would see about a $35 annual property tax increase.

"If children do not feel safe, they will not learn," said one parent who supported Tuesday's move.

The $3.4 million tax hike won't only add extra officers to schools, but it will help build two new fire stations one in West Ashley and one in Cainhoy.