This week we have the opportunity to learn about the Newberry County Auditor who has prominent responsibilities in administrating tax laws in Newberry County and serves as supervisor of the Office of County Auditor.
Donna Lominack has served 41 years in the Auditor’s Office and will provide background information and answer questions of interest to Newberry County residents.
The county auditor is the elected public official responsible on the county level for administering all ad valorem property tax laws regarding the assessment, levying and accounting of such taxes. Ad valorem tax is calculated with the actual market value of taxable property located within a jurisdiction. In Newberry County the Auditor is responsible for: Newberry County, Newberry County School District, City of Newberry, Towns of Whitmire, Pomaria, Little Mountain and Prosperity.
“While sales taxes have a discretionary component, property taxes are entirely mandatory. Citizens can choose, to some degree, how much they want to spend on taxable purchases, but property taxes are tied to property ownership, state laws and spending levels by the entities – which include the School Board and councils representing city and county governments,” Lominack said.
The Auditor’s duties and responsibilities are prescribed primarily in the Title 12 of the Code of Laws of S.C. and under the supervision of Department of Revenue and Policies and Ordinances of the Newberry County Council. The Auditor is elected for a four-year term.
“I am currently in my third term, and at this time I do plan to run in 2020. I have worked in the Auditor’s Office for 41 years — hired as a clerk in 1977 by the late Jeannette Hamm; appointed deputy auditor by Deputy Emeritus Nancy Owen; they are the reason I am Auditor today,” Lominack said.
The Newberry Auditor’s Office has five employees. The staff is most knowledgeable and strives to assist citizens of Newberry County.
”I am, as Auditor, responsible for the Homestead Exemption Program, which is very dear to me and one that greatly benefits Newberry County citizens. The program exempts the value of $50.000 for all purposes except for school operating purposes from your tax bill on your primary residence. In 2007, the S.C. legislature passed legislation that completely exempts school operating levy from your tax bill on your primary residence,” Lominack said.
You should have complete fee simple title or life estate on your primary residence.
As of December 31 preceding the tax year you are granted the exemption be a legal residence of S.C. for one calendar year, were 65 years of age or were declared totally and permanently disabled by a state or federal agency having the authority to make such declaration or were legally blind as certified by a licensed ophthalmologist.
The Auditor’s office prepares and lists all taxable personal property on the county’s tax roll including motor vehicles, trucks, motorcycles, campers, RV’s, motor homes, watercraft, aircraft and local business furniture, fixtures and equipment.
“Speaking of Personal Property discount on vehicles, in the office we have a chart, provided by DOR with the year of the vehicle and how many makes are registered for the high mileage discount. For the 2018 tax year a 2018 vehicle needs 15,001 miles to qualify and a 2004 vehicle needs 190,001 miles to qualify. Once a vehicle reaches 15 years old, it is charged at a minimum value of $500.00 and does not for the mileage discount. Staff now has the ability to access Kelly Blue Book and will ask a few questions pertaining to your vehicle and if it is lower than our DOR guide we use that market value to determine our assessment and charge our taxpayers accordingly,” Lominack said.
The Forfeited Land Commission is another responsibility of the auditor and has three Commissioners: Clerk of Court, Treasurer, and Auditor.
“We are deeded property after it has gone to the tax sale and was not purchased. The Commission disposes of the property with the best interest of the County. We have a listing of all available properties, a bid sheet and guidelines for purchasing property. All changes on municipalities are generated in the Auditor’s office,” Lominack said.
The County Assessor is responsible for all local real estate, but with all assessments the auditor generates a tax bill from these assessments. All changes on municipalities are generated in the Auditor’s office.
“I appreciate the Auditor’s Office and NEWBERRY COUNTY citizens we serve,” Lominack said.
Margaret Brackett is from Newberry. Her columns appear weekly in The Newberry Observer.