Sales tax increase under consideration in Georgetown County

GEORGETOWN, S.C. (WPDE) - Georgetown County Council is looking into the possibility of adding a one percent capital project sales tax. If adopted, the sales tax could replace impact fees.

In 2006, Horry County voters gave the green light to the Riding on a Penny referendum, which funds roads projects like the widening of Highway 707. Georgetown County Administrator Sel Hemingway says they are researching something similar. "We've seen similar success stories in Orangeburg County and York County, Lancaster County and throughout the state. And it was just a thought as we reviewed our capital improvement plan."

The one cent on the dollar sales tax would apply to items that are already subject to the state sales tax. Before voters could say whether or not they want to pay the extra money, county council has to pass a resolution. Then a commission made up of representatives from each area of the county would decide which projects would be funded, a timeline for completion, and for how long the tax would be in place. According to state law, it can't exceed eight years.

Possible projects could include those already on the capital improvement list like libraries and paving rural roads.

Hemingway says one benefit would be in the time it takes to complete projects. "This could accelerate those projects and allow folks in those areas to see those improvements take place more quickly."

County Council Member Jerry Oakley said he did not see the proposal as "additional revenue." He adds, if council receives positive feedback they'll move forward.

Hemingway says tourists who visit the county would share in paying the tax. "It's estimated that about 25 percent of our sales tax revenue comes from folks outside of the county."

Early estimates show about $7 million a year would be generated if passed by voters.

The item will be up for discussion at Georgetown County Council's next meeting which is February 28.