Lexington, SC 05/21/2021 (Paul Kirby) – Although Lexington County Council did find it necessary to raise property taxes by a small amount this year, the demand for more resources were great and the dollars available were simply too few to cover all the high priority needs of a fast growing county. With the additional funds collected, several department’s that have been traditionally understaffed will be able to add personnel this year to help alleviate some of the pressures on the core government services they provide.
According to Lexington County Council Chairman Todd Cullum, in 2021/22 property taxes are increasing by $2.22 per year on a $100,000 home that’s owner occupied. Taxes will also go up $3.34 on each $100,000 valuation per year on property that is used for business, or if the owner doesn’t use it as their primary resident. That type of property is often referred to as a 6% property.
However, one department that has traditionally needs more help yearly due to demand was able to add a number of key new positions that were paid for by re-managing current resources and not with additional tax dollars. To put it more clearly, through sound management practices, the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department was able to provide for new employees without asking the County Council to increase the amount they receive from the General Fund to operate that department above the amount they received last year.
According to Captain Adam Myrick of the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department, the 2021-2022 county budget includes funding for seven additional positions at the Sheriff’s Department. One is a civilian administrative manager. The other six come at the request of the magistrates as they seek security and a law enforcement presence at their respective offices and courtrooms. Six certified deputies will be hired to provide security and keep order.
After the budget process was complete, Lexington County Sheriff Jay Koon said, “Through a lot of sacrifice and compromise, our 2021-2022 budget is one of the most employee incentive-laden budgets in our history and was achieved with no tax increase to our citizens. Something like this could have only been accomplished through the hard work of our leadership team in administration, detention and operations, as well as our ongoing relationship with County Council and with the help of our new County Administrator.”
Captain Myrick went on to say the Lexington County Detention Center will now offer the highest-paid correctional officer positions in the region and the second-highest paid in the entire state. Their new budget provides for a 7% pay raise for all correction officers up to the rank of sergeant. That increase makes correctional officer pay equal to that of patrol deputies. “We’re confident this will be a valuable tool as we strive to recruit service-minded individuals to carry out the important tasks we handle 24/7 in the Lexington County Detention Center,” Sheriff Koon said after the raises were announced.
Additionally, the LCSD expanded their holiday pay program in this year’s budget. That is increased pay per “holiday” shift for their employees that must be on-duty during county holidays. Previously, the department was only able pay employees for eight of the 13 official holidays. In this year’s budget, they were able to add the five other holidays that were not included in the original program.
All this was done to provide more protection and services for the citizens of Lexington County and to help recruit and retain the very best employees possible. As anti-law enforcement sentiment raged across the country last year, and because the economy has traditionally been strong over the last five years, public safety agencies like the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department have had to compete with the private sector and other agencies for high-quality employees. That can sometimes be very difficult.
In closing, Sheriff Koon said of the 2021/22 budget, “I am so very proud of the way we’ve all persevered when faced with recent adversity and I have no doubt we will continue to do so. For these reasons and so many others, I felt it was very important to recognize and show appreciation to our employees during this year’s budget process.”