Auditor, treasurer cut hours at new IL center

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By Greg Summers

Two elected officials are cutting the amount of time their workers are staffing the county government’s new Indian Land Service Center by 75 percent due to a lack of foot traffic.
Starting next month, the county treasurer’s and auditor’s offices will have workers there only the second Tuesday of each month instead of every Tuesday.
The service center opened in mid-June. The county’s engineering and stormwater department are located there, with the treasurer’s, auditor’s and veterans affairs office sharing a portion of the space on different days. Veterans affairs is there on Thursdays.
“The level of demand simply doesn’t justify full-time staff at the location once a week,” said county Treasurer Carrie Helms, noting that less than 20 county residents are going there each week for treasurer services.
It’s even less for the auditor’s office.
County Auditor Susan Hunter Wallace said only seven people came to the center this Tuesday to deal with her office.
“The other weeks have shown the trend very much the same,” she said.
The center is in The Commons of Doby’s Bridge strip shopping center at 8451 Charlotte Highway (U.S. 521 southbound), just north of the Gate gasoline station.
The service center was envisioned as a way to offer residents in the growing Indian Land area an enhanced level of customer service, as well as convenience. Almost 40 percent of the county’s population now lives from S.C. 5 north to the N.C. line.
At one time, council discussed moving most of the building-code officials to the center, but decided against it.
The county has a five-year lease on the office space at $49,720 a year. It also cost the county $58,535 to upfit the building.
County council Chairman Steve Harper said while he fully understands the viewpoints of Helms and Wallace, he would like to see them keep the weekly staffing though the tax season, which runs from October through January.
“I just don’t think they’ve given it long enough. It’s there and it needs to be utilized. But they are elected officials, and it’s their call,” Harper said.
Helms said the daily workload at the treasurer’s office inside the county administration building on North Main Street is too heavy to warrant “being at the Indian Land Service Center every Tuesday with the activity we are receiving.”
“Most people – especially taxpayers – don’t understand we do more than just collect county taxes. The treasurer’s office collects revenue from all county departments within that collect any type of revenue. We also pay out to the municipalities, schools and the state,” she said.
Hunter Wallace is exploring the option of placing a kiosk inside the Indian Land center, since many taxpayers now handle auditor services online.
“We have seen the volume of automated service requests continuously increase,” she said.
The auditor’s department, she noted, will continue providing once-a-month off-site homestead exemption signup at the Del Webb Library in Indian Land.
The auditor’s office, she said, provides the homestead exemption sign-up in Kershaw and Van Wyck, but not every month. 
Lancaster County Administrator Steve Willis said if Helms and Wallace determine later this year that more days need to be added in Indian Land, they can go back to more than one day a month.
“The vast majority of the office is stormwater, and they’re wide open five days a week,” Willis said. “Who knows what the future holds? I think over time, the demand is there. And if it is, we have a spot there for them.” 

Follow reporter Greg Summers on Twitter @GregSummersTLN or contact him at (803) 283-1156.