Some Aiken County taxpayers incorrectly billed fire fees for years, county changes budget to create consistency

AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) – Aiken County leaders are correcting some tax notices.

Some taxpayers may see a slight increase or decrease in their fire fees from last year.

WJBF NewsChannel 6 has learned that’s because for years some people weren’t correctly billed.

WJBF NewsChannel 6 sat down with County Administrator Clay Killian to figure out why some taxpayers saw an increase in their fire fees from 2017 to 2018.

Each fire department has its own system for calculating fire protection service fees.

Killian says for some time the county left it up to each individual fire department to do the math.

“We would send them every list of property with the fee that was last year, then we would get them to correct it for us.” Killian told WJBF NewsChannel 6. “This year we put the calculations in ourselves.”

The new line in the budget explains that fire fees will now be based on the fair market value of property.

That change has hiked the price of fire services for some in Belvedere, where Fire Chief Chad Hyler says in the past, fees were calculated based on taxable property value.

“When they base it off of a percentage of fair market value it’s a lot higher,” said Hyler.

According to a bill obtained by WJBF NewsChannel 6 the taxable value of a home is $81,240 dollars, which means the fire fee should be $60.93.

However the homeowner was charged $37.98 on the 2017 tax bill.

Killian did the math and argues Belvedere fire fees have always been based on fair market value.

He says using fair market value will keep fire fees consistent throughout the county.

“What’s going to happen with this is it’s going to help us cleanup some of the things that weren’t correctly calculated in the past.” Killian said. “Is it making some people go up? Yes, but it’s making some go down.”

The County Administrator urges residents with questions to call the county Tax Assessor’s Office at 803-642-1583.

Count on WJBF NewsChannel 6 to bring you the latest on this developing story. 

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