Homeowners in Charleston may see property taxes go up as the city considers using sales tax money to make up an $18 million budget shortfall.

The Post and Courier reports Charleston City Council members are debating a budget proposal that would increase taxes on a $300,000 owner-occupied home in Charleston County by $81 for the year. Taxes on the same home in the part of Charleston in Berkeley County would go up $58.

In a typical year, the city uses local option sales tax money to reduce property taxes, but the city may use the money to balance the budget this year.

Councilwoman Marie Delcioppo described the proposed tax increase as “kicking people when they’re down” and asked the council to consider cutting expenses.

“This will hurt our small businesses, it’ll hurt people who rent, it’ll hurt property owners, it’ll hurt people across the board,” Delcioppo said.

Even with higher property taxes, the city would have a remaining $5.3 million deficit left. Chief Finance Officer Amy Wharton proposed using the city’s savings to make that up, guaranteeing that no city employees would see a pay cut.

City Council members said they want to scrutinize cuts that included in the proposal.

Another option would cut workers including 40 police officers, 31 firefighters, 23 recreation department employees, 13 sanitation and streets workers, and workers in other departments.

The city has not received any coronavirus-related relief funding. If that funding becomes available, several council members said they would change the tax rate back to its earlier proposal.

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