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Sales tax: Port dredging stays on the list with veto override

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

The state Senate overrode the governor’s veto Wednesday on legislation that would allow capital projects sales tax revenue to be used for dredging.

That means dredging of Winyah Bay and preparation of a spoils site for maintenance dredging in Murrells Inlet can remain on a list of projects to be funded with proceeds from a 1-cent capital projects sales tax proposed in Georgetown County.

With that hurdle past, the list was finalized by the sales tax committee during a short meeting the same day.

The meeting was the group’s last. Its recommendations are now headed to County Council and will be up for discussion on July 10.

If it gets council’s OK, the list will be part of a referendum on the ballot in November, when county voters will be asked to decide if the tax should be implemented. As proposed, it would be in place for eight years and would fund about $40 million worth of projects.

Had the governor’s veto been sustained, the $5.5 million Winyah Bay project and the $1.8 million inlet project would have had to be scrapped and the sales tax committee would have looked at scaling back the tax to a six-year implementation.

The language pertaining to the dredging was incorporated into another bill regarding waterway issues and was vetoed by Gov. Nikki Haley last week. She said part of the bill that expanded a municipal improvement district’s taxing authority could lead to higher involuntary assessments for property owners. Her veto had nothing to do with the port dredging issue.

In addition to dredging, there are 18 other projects on the list, including paving all the roads on the county’s rural roads paving list, building 10 new fire substations to help about 10 percent of the county’s population lower home insurance costs, and construction of new libraries and recreation facilities.

A $6 million Waccamaw Library is high on the list, though the tax would fund only $2.5 million of the cost. The tax would also allow a library to be built in the Sampit area and give Georgetown a new Library.

Dan Stacy, sales tax committee chairman will be at the council meeting next month to present the recommendations and answer any questions from council. He also encouraged other members of the committee to attend.

Additionally Stacy and County Administrator Sel Hemingway said requests from community groups for presentations on the sales tax have already started rolling in. Stacy, Hemingway, committee member Donald Godwin and Council Members Jerry Oakley and Ron Charlton will talk about the tax and projects on Monday at a meeting of the Waccamaw Neck Council of Property Owners Associations. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at the Waccamaw Library. The public is invited.

Stacy has also agreed to be a speaker at the Georgetown Breakfast Rotary Club.

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