Aiken Co. councilman wants government change, says some candidates not 'fully credentialed'

Aiken County taxes

Aiken County didn't collect all the taxes it should have. (WRDW-TV / June 8, 2012)

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Friday, June 8, 2012

AIKEN, S.C. -- Aiken County has just discovered something Det Haislip calls embarrassing.

"It's quite embarrassing. You know, Aiken County and the city -- we pride ourselves on being forthright and accurate," said Haislip, the owner of the True Value in downtown Aiken.

But a mistake in the county office has led to a big inaccuracy. Many businesses that appealed their property values ended up only paying abound 80 percent of their property taxes.

The bottom line is Aiken County didn't collect all the taxes it should have.

"And this went on in perpetuity. For some cases, going back all the way to 2002," said Aiken County Councilman Scott Singer.

County tax documents show a loss of about $18,000 in 2002. The year after, about $6,000 was lost. Fast forward to 2009, the county lost about $90,000. It lost over $105,000 in 2010.

"At this point, you know, it's about $118,000 for the county and over $300,000 total, the majority of which would go to the school board," Singer said.

That's why Singer is pushing for a big change. Like the county assessor, he wants county treasurers and auditors to be appointed, not elected. He says that would allow for better communication between the three offices, and he says a problem like this likely wouldn't have happened.

"I think the problem could have and should have and would have been fixed if all fell under the same roof," he said.

Singer says the candidates running for both auditor and treasurer right now aren't properly credentialed for the job. It's something Haislip agrees with. He says he wants qualified auditors and treasurers.

"Not just somebody that puts their name on the ballot and gets their friends to vote for them," Haislip said.

County Administrator Clay Killian says the $360,000 figure may go down some as more recent appeals are settled.

As for the change of government, the council approved a referendum this past Tuesday to place the issue on the ballot. This November, voters will decide whether county treasurers and auditors should be elected or appointed.

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