Charleston City Council approves tax hike worth $3.4 million

By Valencia

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - Meeting Street Academy was filled Tuesday night with concerned tax payers as Charleston City Council discussed a property tax hike worth $3.4 million.

Despite 3 hours of debate, the measure was approved 8 to 5.

The measure will put officers in elementary schools and build two new fire stations - one in the Cainhoy area, the other in western West Ashley.

Before, the vote was made taxpayers publicly voiced their opinion.

Some felt the hike was worth the safety of children, others felt the hike was unnecessary and the cost should be taken care of by the school districts or funded in other ways.

Still, city officials who support the idea, made their stance very clear.

"We are dealing with scary things here," said Chief Greg Mullen, the City of Charleston's police chief. {}"We're dealing with people who want to kill children, who want to kill adults and they want to wreak havoc on our communities."

Mullen has recommended a cluster strategy, where a handful of officers will be assigned to certain public and private schools by area zones.

The plan would hire 19 new officers for school patrol.

Mullen says during summer and holiday vacation, the officers would be assigned to specific neighborhoods.

"We want to make sure that we've got a response system in place that's swift and that when we get to that location we're going to engage that offender with equal or greater force," Mullen said.

Initially, the tax hike was set to include more patrol officers for the upper King Street entertainment district.

Tuesday night, council voted to remove that portion of the measure.