By John Clayton | July 29, 2020 |
A referendum for a 1-cent Capital Project Sales Tax for Laurens County will be on the ballot in the November General Election. The Laurens County Council approved third reading of an ordinance that will send the proposal to the voters at its Tuesday night meeting. The “yes” or “no” question will now go to the South Carolina Elections Commission to be placed on the ballot. The 1-cent sales tax would go to fund as many as 16 proposed projects. The list of projects was approved and ranked in order of importance by a six-person commission and presented to council earlier this summer. If adopted, the sales tax would last for eight years before being either retired or extended. The list of projects, which includes an agricultural center, renovations to the Historic County Courthouse, parks projects and a new Clinton public library, is budgeted at almost $35 million. Initially, the County Administrator Jon Caime said the proposed tax would raise $44-$50 million, but with the economic downturn due to the COVID-19 pandemic, officials set a more conservative goal and aligned the projects to meet it. Commission Chairman Walter Hughes III said about 44% of the funds raised will come from outside the county as people visit or travel through the area. That number leaves $19.6 million paid by county residents, a number that breaks down to about $4 per month per resident. Both Greenwood and Spartanburg counties have recently passed similar sales taxes. In other items, council was to hear an update on COVID-19 from Emergency Services Director Joey Avery. The county surpassed 1,000 confirmed cases over the past week. Discussions on several boards and committees was also on the agenda for council members. An executive session involving an employment matter was scheduled as well.