Sales tax commission needs Beaufort County projects to review

dburley@islandpacket.comApril 26, 2014 

  • If you go


    What: Beaufort County Capital Project Sales Tax Commission

    Where: Bluffton library, 120 Palmetto Way

    When: 6:30 p.m. Monday

    Residents, organizations and local governments can present capital projects to be considered for funding by a proposed sales tax increase.

    Presentations should be no longer than 10 minutes and must be submitted by 3 p.m. Monday to jnelson@bcgov.net.

    Two other similar meetings are planned:

  • 6:30 p.m. May 12, Whale Branch Early College High School

  • 6:30 p.m. May 19, Hilton Head Island Town Hall

  • Unlike last week, a Beaufort County panel discussing a proposed 1 percent sales tax increase should have capital projects to review when it meets Monday.
  • The Capital Project Sales Tax Commission will meet at the Bluffton library to discuss projects that could be included in a possible sales tax referendum.

    Residents, organizations and local governments can make presentations at the meeting -- one of three scheduled around the county in the next few weeks -- on capital projects they'd like to see completed.

    Commission members hoped to hear about projects last week, but no local governments showed up at a meeting April 21, they said.

    "It's fair to say everybody on the commission was disappointed," said member Scott Richardson, a former state senator from Hilton Head Island.

    Area leaders said Friday the lack of participation was an anomaly, possibly due to not enough time -- about two weeks -- between a call for proposals and the meeting.

    "Everyone is trying to get it done in a short period of time," county administrator Gary Kubic said. "One meeting was void of presentation; that's not going to happen (Monday)."

    Beaufort County will present a preliminary list of projects at the meeting, according to county spokeswoman Joy Nelson.

    The town of Bluffton also has submitted a presentation, Mayor Lisa Sulka said Friday.

    "There was a bit of a communication drop about the last meeting," she said. "But we're ready to go."

    Representatives from the city of Beaufort and the towns of Hilton Head Island and Port Royal said they would make presentations at later meetings. The commission has meetings scheduled for May 12 at Whale Branch Early College High School and May 19 at Hilton Head Island Town Hall.

    The University of South Carolina Beaufort and the Technical College of the Lowcountry are also considering presentations.

    The commission has until the beginning of June to compile a preliminary list of projects. The proposals must be vetted by county officials and approved by County Council by this summer if the sales tax measure is to appear on the November ballot.

    Projects could range from stormwater improvements in Beaufort to replacing the bridges to and from Hilton Head.

    Richardson remains optimistic.

    "We're on a short fuse to get this done, and we've virtually lost an entire meeting -- but it can happen," he said.

    A capital sales tax would expire after a certain number of years or when all the projects are paid in full.

    Voters approved a similar sales tax increase in 2006 to raise money for road improvements, including widening U.S. 278 and S.C. 170 in southern Beaufort County and building a new J.E. McTeer Bridge in northern Beaufort County. That 1 percent tax expired in 2012.

    Follow reporter Dan Burley on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Dan.

    Related content:

    Tea partiers concerned sales tax proposal will overburden low-income residents, April 10, 2014

    County, municipalities set sights on sales-tax referendum decision, March 1, 2014

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