County Council guarantees money to tax relief

  • Friday, October 11, 2013

Dorchester County Council voted 6-1 at its meeting Monday to approve a referendum pledging all of the potential money earned through the Local Option Sales Tax for Property Tax Relief be used as tax credits.

The proposed Local Option Sales Tax for Property Tax Relief will appear as a referendum on the ballot this November. If passed, the new 1 percent tax will be applied to all retail sales that are already subject to state sales tax. The funds collected from the tax are then distributed to the county and the municipalities.

According to the tax law (the South Carolina Code of Laws Title 4, Chapter 10, Article 1) at least 71 percent of the tax funds collected must be used as a credit on property taxes. The remainder is distributed amongst the county and municipalities based on an additional set of criteria.

By passing the resolution Monday night, County Council committed to using all of the potential funds collected if the referendum is passed for property tax relief, not just the minimum required 71 percent.

Councilman Larry Hargett was the only member to vote against the adoption of the resolution. During the discussion, he rallied to have the vote presented in 2014 instead of next month. He proposed a vote to amend the resolution and was the only councilmember to vote in its favor.

“I don’t think we’re going to be ready,” he said.

Several councilmembers had contrasting opinions.

Councilman Jay Byars said having the vote this year was the purpose of introducing the referendum in 2013.

“The point was to not get caught up in white noise. The no vote is out there working and the yes vote is out there working, and we can see that,” he said.

Councilman Willie Davis agreed, saying the council has no reason to postpone the referendum if they believe it’s something citizens should have the opportunity to vote on.

With a 1-6 vote on the amendment, the referendum remains on the ballot this coming election day, Nov. 5.

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