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Sales tax: Pawleys Island council opposes extra penny

Pawleys Island Town Council voted Monday to oppose a proposed 1-cent capital projects sales tax that’s up for a vote by Georgetown County Council on Tuesday.

The Pawleys Island Civic Association, which represents most of the island’s property owners, has also voted to oppose the tax.

Mayor Bill Otis said the additional penny will be used for “a plethora of projects around the county” and the concern on the island is that it will make vacational rental properties less competitive.

County Council agreed in February to start the process that would put the sales tax and a list of $40 million in capital projects on the November ballot. The council is scheduled to vote Tuesday on the referendum language. The 20 projects proposed by a committee appointed to draft the plan and the referendum include dredging for the Winyah Bay shipping channel, a dredge spoils site for Murrells Inlet, an expansion of the new Waccamaw Library that is due to open in 2014, road paving, libraries in Sampit and Georgetown and parks and recreation facilities. The tax would be in effect for eight years.

The county estimates that 20 percent of the sales tax revenue will be paid by tourists. Town Council members were skeptical of that figure, but Otis said the tax will also be paid by people who rent their homes to tourists. If the tax referendum passes, it will mean short-term renters will pay 11 percent, he said.

Pawleys Island no longer competes with Litchfield and Horry County beaches for vacationers, Otis said. Owners of rental properties also face competition from North Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

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