Sales tax could increase in Georgetown County if voters approve referendum

GEORGETOWN COUNTY, SC (WPDE) - Election day is about a month away and voters in Georgetown County won't only be choosing who they want to see in the White House.

There's a referendum on the ballot asking voters if they support an additional one percent sales tax to pay for projects, including paving rural roads.

The referendum is similar to the Riding on a Penny tax passed by Horry County voters in 2006. Two different groups have formed with very different views on the proposal.

If you drive down Highway 17 heading north in Pawleys Island, a billboard paid for by the Stop the Tax Hike Committee is hard to miss. Their message is simple, vote "no" in November.

Charlie Luquire is against a sales tax increase. The proposal would bring the current sales tax to 7%. The extra one percent would not be added to items like groceries and prescriptions.

"In talking to people in various communities around the county it's not on their radar. And we felt like it was appropriate for us to speak up and to give our views after having studied the matter," he explains. "We didn't think it was an appropriate time to be raising a local sales tax."

Luquire says there are a lot of unknowns facing the people of Georgetown County and the additional tax, which county officials say is expected to generate about $40 million dollars over eight years, isn't needed.

"Because financing and the ability of the local people to pay for various things is limited. We think their limit has been reached," adds Luquire.

If voters approve the referendum, the money generated from the tax will pay for many projects including improvements to Parkersville Road, dredging Winyah Bay, and Murrells Inlet.

"This inlet has been filling in with silt and it's becoming difficult for recreational boaters to get around at low tide as well as commercial fisherman," says Bill Crowther with Pennies for Progress.

He goes on to say the potential economic impact would improve the area, "We don't have the sports recreation facilities that a lot of families are looking for. Our libraries are outdated. The Sampit, Santee area they don't have a library. They're going to get a library out of this."

"We're not opposed to libraries certainly or paving rural roads. We have a plan for that and the plan has been in effect for years. We think we should stay with the plan and if the economic conditions improve then we can adjust the spending schedule to move things forward," explains Luquire.

The county is in fact already working toward some of those projects under their capital improvement plan, but if the tax passes, improvements will be made a bit quicker.

Georgetown County Council has already passed a resolution to waive impact fees on new construction is the one cent sales tax passes.

If you'd like more information from those who oppose the tax you can go to their website, email them at or call (843) 485-0660.

If you'd like more information from those in support of the tax you can go their Facebook page or call (843) 979-0651.