Sales tax referendum one step closer to ballot

  • Friday, July 11, 2014

The public has one chance to make suggestions for a proposed one-cent sales tax referendum during a public hearing at the Aug. 12 meeting of Georgetown County Council.

Council passed second reading of the ordinance for a one-cent sales tax referendum at its July 8 meeting.

If passed on third reading on Aug. 12, the referendum question will be on the November ballot.

County Administrator Sel Prior to the vote, Hemingway summarized the work done by the Capital Projects Sales Tax Commission, which they completed on June 26.

As reported before in the Georgetown Times, he said the commission members agreed that the priority of five capital projects would be:

Georgetown Port dredging, the county’s portion of which is estimated at $6 million;

Murrells Inlet dredging, expected to cost about $8 million for dredging and $2.3 million for disposal site preparation;

Andrews police and fire facilities, estimated to cost $1.5 million;

building of fire substations throughout the county and one fire station, expected to cost about $1.5 million;

and countywide road improvements, estimated to cost $8.9 million.

Hemingway reminded Council that the capital projects sales tax would be for a period of four years, from May 2015 to April 2019, and would raise about $7 million per year.

He added that the priority list will only be in effect if Council decides to “pay-as-you-go” for the projects and that language is included in the ordinance to allow the county to borrow money.

If Council decides to borrow money, the five projects could be started at the same time.

Council members Austin Beard and Lillie Jean Johnson were concerned about the roads that will be included in the countywide road improvements project.

Hemingway said that the roads list will be available on the website at www.georgetowncountysc.org, but it will not be included in the referendum question.

“We felt the community would be best served if we don’t have a long list of road projects on the ballot,” he said.

Hemingway also stated that when the roads projects start, they “will need to talk about the efficiency of combining road projects to procure bids.”

That is because having a road crew work set up equipment and resurface more than one road at a time is cheaper than having a crew come out for each little piece, he explained.

Council Chairman Johnny Morant expressed his gratitude to the people involved.

“I would like to thank the commission members and staff for their hard work,” Morant said.

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