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Council to vote on fate of sales tax referendum

  • Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The fate of a referendum on a new one-cent sales tax will be decided on Tuesday night as County Council votes for a third and final time.
If it is approved, the referendum would be on the ballot in November.
If it’s not approved, the measure is dead.
At the last Council meeting in July, about 20 people spoke during public comment, most urging Council members to vote against sending the proposal to a referendum.
In the end, Council voted 5-2 to give second reading to the ordinance.
Council members Bob Anderson and Ron Charlton were the only two “no” votes.
Anderson said he had hoped to trade some property tax for the sales tax. Charlton said he was swayed by the people who spoke in opposition to the proposal.
The county formed a commission to investigate how the money from a new one-cent sales tax would be spent. The commission put together a list of $40 million in projects, including $7.47 million  for road improvements; $12.2 million for parks and recreation; $11.31 million for libraries; and $7.3 million for dredging in Georgetown and Murrells Inlet.
The new sales tax would have an eight-year lifespan. Another referendum would be needed to extend it.
County Council meets Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. on the second floor of the Old Courthouse at Screven and Prince streets in Georgetown.

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Georgetown County Library Director Dwight McInvaill is defending himself against charges that he broke a state law that prohibits the “use of public funds, property, or time” to influence an election or the outcome of a ballot measure.
McInvaill used his county e-mail account to invite Sue Sledz, director of Murrells Inlet 2020, to a “steering committee meeting for leaders in favor of the proposed one-cent sales tax referendum.”
He said he was asked to send the e-mail by Jean Cross, vice chairwoman of the county Library Board.
After McInvaill sent his invitation to Sledz, Waccamaw Neck resident Charlie Luquire sent him an e-mail pointing out that using his county account for that purpose was a violation of state law.
“My intent was not to do anything that was inappropriate,” McInvaill said, “even though I do not believe it was.”
McInvaill spoke to County Administrator Sel Hemingway about his “strong desire to not do something inappropriate,” and said he would not be sending any more e-mails regarding meetings or the sales-tax referendum.

By Chris Sokoloski
csokoloski@gtowntimes.com

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