A Second Sales Tax Increase to Appear on Nov Ballot

Sales tax 6

Beaufort County sales tax to appear on ballot


By Lawrence Conneff, July 3, 2016, 843-815-0800, Ext. 19 lawrence.conneff@blufftontoday.com

Beaufort County voters will decide in November whether a penny should be added to the sales tax to pay for a host of capital improvements.

County Council gave final approval Monday to a 1-cent sales-tax referendum that will appear on this fall’s general election ballot.

If a majority of voters support it, the tax increase would pay for $120 million in projects throughout the county. It would collect $130 million total over a maximum of four years, with $10 million to cover financing costs.

“I took the projects and sorted them by geography and by category,” Councilman Stu Rodman said, “and it actually turned out to be quite balanced.”

Balance was among the goals an independent commission had for the referendum it was asked to craft and recommend to council.

Members of the council-appointed capital project sales tax commission spent months debating a longer list of projects proposed by the county, its municipalities and local colleges. They divided the projects into needs and wants, then into four categories — public safety, environmental impact, economic development and quality of life — before trimming the list to $120 million.

Chairman Mike Sutton of Beaufort said several times they wanted to forward to council a referendum that voters would support. That meant, in part, including proposals from across the county.

“If it gets on the ballot, I would like every voter in the entire county to believe that they have something in their backyard worth voting for,” Sutton said at a May meeting.

Bluffton-area projects that made the final list include Buck Island and Simmonsville road improvements, a county EMS center in Pritchardville, sewer installation, wetlands restoration projects, Oyster Factory Park upgrades, Waddell Mariculture Center improvements, a Calhoun Street public dock expansion and facilities additions at the University of South Carolina Beaufort and Technical College of the Lowcountry.

The referendum is now the second sales-tax measure scheduled to appear on the Nov. 8 ballot.

In May, the Beaufort County school board approved a 1-cent sales-tax referendum that would raise $282 million over 10 years for capital improvements.

The school district’s project list includes wrestling and weight rooms at Bluffton High School, a new wing at May River High, additions to River Ridge Academy and two new Bluffton-area schools. USCB and TCL would each receive 5 percent of the revenue.

BEAUFORT COUNTY CAPITAL PROJECT SALES TAX LIST

Category 1: Public safety

Jenkins Island (Windmill Harbour) roadway improvements: $7.4 million

County safe routes to schools: $4.64 million

Pinckney Island road improvements: $2 million

EMS facilities, Bluffton/Pritchardville and Burton: $6 million

Implementation of U.S. 278 traffic safety study recommendations: $5.6 million

Detention center security improvements and repairs: $1 million

U.S. 278 improvements, Jenkins Island to Squire Pope Road: $4.5 million

Sheriff’s Office communication equipment: $6.26 million

Sheriff’s Office traffic management improvements: $836,955

Buck Island and Simmonsville road improvements: $750,000

Hilton Head Island safe routes to schools: $2.91 million

Resurfacing town of Port Royal-owned roads: $2.5 million

Port Royal sidewalk construction: $300,000

Category 2: Environmental impact

Bluffton sanitary sewer installation and connection: $4 million

Stoney Creek sub-basin pond improvements and wetlands restoration: $4.25 million

Rose Dhu Creek sub-basin pond improvements and wetlands restoration: $1.75 million

Oyster Factory Park improvements: $2 million

Daufuskie Island consolidation of solid waste disposal: $1.8 million

Category 3: Economic development

Waddell Mariculture Center improvements: $750,000

Beaufort downtown parking garage: $13 million

Calhoun Street dock improvements and expansion: $750,000

Construction of new port spine road (port redevelopment): $4.5 million

TCL culinary arts teaching institute and health sciences expansion: $10 million

Category 4: Quality of life

U.S. 21 ITS bridge system: $500,000

Waterfront Park and marina improvements, Southside Park improvements: $4 million

Hilton Head Island dirt road acquisition, paving: $7 million

Arts, entertainment and cultural campus: $6.2 million

Pavilion at Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park: $210,000

Hilton Head Island Recreation Center expansion: $10 million

Daufuskie Island road rights-of-way: $1.35 million

USCB academic/OLLI building (Bluffton campus): $3.15 million

Source

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Not Authorized by any Candidate or Candidate's Committee.