THIS WEEK'S TOP STORIES
Sales tax: Chamber cites port in endorsing plan for 1-cent increase
By Jason Lesley
The Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce is backing an additional 1-cent sales tax to fund $40 million in capital improvements.
Directors voted unanimously last week to support the passage of the Capital Projects Sales Tax on the ballot Nov. 6. If approved, the additional penny would bring sales tax in Georgetown County to 7 percent. It would not apply to food or prescription drugs.
Chamber president and CEO Brian Tucker said board members favor the sales tax over any increase in property taxes and hope to see County Council repeal impact fees on construction. Impact fees are financing capital improvements now.
“Obviously, this being my first board meeting, I was very pleased with the level of discussion and debate considering the pros and cons,” Tucker said. “The board unanimously felt that the programs all benefit Georgetown County from a quality of life standpoint and an economic development standpoint.”
He said dredging the port, along with some of the infrastructure proposals, will position Georgetown County to recruit business.
Had County Council been more direct about its willingness to eliminate impact fees, Tucker said, Chamber board members may have been even more enthusiastic in their support of the 1-cent sales tax.
“Subsequent conversations,” he said, “have led me to believe that’s on the table.”
Board member Jenna Jordan said the decision was all about growth.
“We’ve got to push our local economy in the direction to encourage growth,” she said. “Improving the community and the esthetics of it are part of that.”
The referendum is getting support from other quarters as well.
Ted Hiley, a resident of the Pawleys Island area, said he joined Sen. Yancey McGill in an appearance in the western part of the county promoting the sales tax and was well received.
A proponent of a new library on the Waccamaw Neck, Hiley said the referendum is a county issue and supporters are encouraging people to look at the big picture. “It’s very encouraging,” he said. “I hope people on the Neck will look beyond what’s in it for them and see the overall benefit.”
Marty Tennant of Georgetown is most interested in one particular item: improvements to Black River Road for Georgetown Memorial Hospital. Tennant’s property borders Black River Road in front of the hospital. Tennant says he’s frustrated by the lack of specifics about $1 million in improvements proposed for the road.
“The S.C. Department of Transportation just paved Black River Road, and they know nothing,” Tennant said. “I can’t see why this is such a priority when there is a dearth of details.”[E-Mail Article To a Friend]