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Referendum: Council revives sales tax for November ballot

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

Georgetown County Council has approved the first step in getting another sales tax referendum on the November ballot.

Council members agreed on a resolution to establish a sales tax commission to determine capital projects that would be funded by the sales tax and formulate the ballot question.

County Administrator Sel Hemingway said he had discussed the possibility of revisiting a sales tax referendum primarily for the purpose of dredging the port with members of County Council. “The opinion out there,” he said, “is that this could be a successful effort if the project list is confined to core services like dredging and fire safety.”

The next step will be appointing six members to the commission by the county and local municipalities.

County voters defeated a referendum to impose an additional one-cent sales tax in 2012 that would have raised an estimated $44 million over eight years for dredging the port’s channel, acquiring a spoils site for dredging Murrells Inlet, fire stations, road paving, recreation projects and libraries. Georgetown County is one of six counties in the state without its own sales tax.

One caveat of the sales tax in 2012 was that the county might eliminate impact fees to fund capital improvement projects. Realtors and developers have been outspoken opponents of the impact fees, initiated just as the economy began to turn downward.

Charlie Luquire of Pawleys Island, a member of a group opposing the sales tax in 2012, said the former foes will wait and see what the sales tax committee proposes. “We’re going to keep our ear to the ground,” he said.

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