I am writing this letter to encourage you to vote yes on the upcoming Capital Project Sales Tax (Penny Tax). At first glance, you may be asking yourselves why would I vote to add a one percent sales tax? However, I am hopeful this letter will shed some light on why it is not only needed, but necessary. I want to see Laurens grow and prosper; just as other surrounding counties have. We simply cannot wait for things to come to us, but we must take action and grow ourselves.
The projects that will be accomplished through the sales tax were submitted by groups within Laurens County. This was open to the public, and anyone from anywhere within the county could have submitted a project. This project will have a fixed life of eight years. This is also known as a “Sunset Clause.” This tax is unique in that it will expire at the conclusion of that period. It can only be re-instated if the people of Laurens County vote to do so. Most importantly, this tax will apply to everyone within and passing through the county. This is not a property tax paid only by those who own property within the county. Up to 40 percent of the tax will be paid by persons outside of Laurens County! Forty percent of the funds will be generated from people passing through our county. Instead of Laurens County residents paying for a better Greenville, Spartanburg, Greenwood, (who all have similar imposed taxes) ... we will be paying for a better Laurens. These are pre-approved projects, and the money from the tax can only be used on the approved projects.
There are 16 projects total and all, in my opinion, are necessary. I will speak on just a few below. These projects are needed to preserve and encourage new growth in our county. The Courthouse is the center piece of our county. It is absolutely necessary that we preserve and renovate it. Thirty years from now I would hate to see pictures of the Courthouse posted on Facebook that state how they can’t believe something so beautiful was torn down. We have seen it with the old Central School, as well as the old Post Office. We cannot let history repeat itself. The Courthouse must be restored – and if we cannot raise the funds for the renovations through this tax, then they would have to be raised another way – such as an increase in property tax, which no one would want. I have seen many say that they want Laurens to have “splash pads” for children, just like other counties have. Well - this is your way to make that happen. One of the projects includes a revitalization of our county parks to include splash pads. I have seen comments on Facebook how many wish there were more options for children in our county. Again, this is your chance to provide those opportunities with state-of-the-art playgrounds, parks and splash pads. The new Evidence Storage Facility is desperately needed. This is another project that I believe is going to be funded one way or another if you vote No – such as that increase in property tax we all dread. The Agriculture and Business Center that is proposed would be a huge growth for Laurens County, bringing people from all over to Laurens for the business it would produce.
Growth anywhere is growth everywhere. New businesses mean new residents, which means more people, which means more opportunity. Again, this is not a vote to increase your property taxes. This is a vote to ensure that everyone who passes through or spends money in our county is contributing to a better Laurens for all. Property owners should not be the only ones who are left footing the bill. Further, this penny tax will not be applied to the costs of medicine or groceries, something that has been falsely passed around. On Nov. 3, you are not only saying “Yes” to a penny tax, you are saying “Yes” to a better Laurens County. You are saying “Yes” you want our county to grow and not be left behind. A yes vote would be joining Greenville, Anderson, Newberry and Greenwood, all of who said yes to similar sales taxes and have seen results; unlike Union County who has yet to take action. Which group of the aforementioned counties do you want Laurens to be associated with? You are saying “Yes” you want new businesses and restaurants to come to Laurens. You are saying “Yes” to everyone who has ever said “No” to Laurens.
Please vote yes on Nov. 3.
Scott Todd Laurens