School News

Sumter school board member Jeff Zell speaks about school tax


My name is Jeff Zell. I am a current Sumter School Board Member. I want to offer a press release regarding my thoughts on the Clarendon County School District debt maintenance tax. 

“We demand transparency from our government officials and entities regarding tax burdens placed on our citizens regarding Clarendon County School Debt Maintenance Tax.

“An Opinion from the Attorney General was requested and their opinion was that reimposing the tax required LEGISLATION. Based on that opinion I IMMEDIATELY FILED THE NECESSARY LEGISLATION IN THE SENATE TO REIMPOSE THE TAX so that our school district can continue to receive this much needed revenue.”  - Senator Kevin Johnson.

The singular decision made by our Senator to impose an additional tax of $160 million on the already struggling citizens of Clarendon County is a matter of major concern. While it’s understood that additional funding may be necessary, the lack of public participation and updates from the district regarding the debt burden the Clarendon County School District (CCSD) is carrying has caused great anxiety among many citizens, including myself.

I would like to know if the Clarendon School District has any plans to reduce its debt. The plan should be presented to the public for comment and feedback, and their opinions and suggestions should also be considered.

The senator's actions, which lack transparency, accountability, and scrutiny, are unacceptable. These values must be upheld in our local government.

Although the Clarendon County delegation had previously enacted a maximum 40-year tax (initial 20-year school debt maintenance tax, sunset, and reimposition without any meaningful public awareness or participation) on Clarendon County taxpayers 20 years ago, it does not imply that it should continue without including the taxpayers who carry the burden.

I strongly suggest that the Senator reconsider his "immediately" filed legislation and make a public statement demanding transparency and accountability from CCSD. The CCSD must prove to the public that these funds are still needed and that its debt reduction plans are in place and validated.”

Thank you for your time and attention to this matter. Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have.