A proposal for a 1 percent sales tax to fund capital projects cannot be revived in time to get it on the ballot in November, Beaufort County's attorney concluded Tuesday.
Some are holding out hope that County Council will reconsider its decision last month to quash a referendum or at least approve a scaled-down version of the $221 million plan to pay for 21 capital projects. However, none of the seven council members who voted down the referendum have indicated they have changed their mind, nor has the leader of the Sales Tax Commission that designed the proposal asked to reconvene the group.
Unless one or the other happens before the end of the day Wednesday, "for all intents and purposes, (the tax) is likely dead," county attorney Josh Gruber said.
For the proposal to make the November ballot, the council would have to advertise a public hearing on the matter at least 15 days in advance. It would then have to take three votes at three separate meetings by Aug. 15, when the referendum proposal would be due to the county elections office. The council already has meetings scheduled for July 28 and Aug. 11 but would need to call an additional special meeting next week, Gruber said.
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The tight schedule hasn't stopped proponents from trying to breathe life into the proposal.
Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling and commission member Mike Covert have called the council's vote a "slap in the face" to voters. The Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce created a Facebook page and petition supporting that position, which received 430 likes and almost 200 signatures.
Suggestions for ways to revive the proposal include narrowing the list of projects to transportation needs, such as U.S. 278 and school-pathway projects; or stripping out several of the land purchases and University of South Carolina Beaufort sports facilities included in the list composed by the commission.
However, no such plan has gained momentum, council members Rick Caporale, Brian Flewelling and Paul Sommerville said Tuesday.
That trio was joined by council members Tabor Vaux, Cynthia Bensch, Steve Fobes and Stu Rodman in rejecting the commission's list in a vote June 23. None have asked the council to reconsider its vote.
The council has the legal authority to create such a transportation sales tax list on its own, according to Caporale.
"I just don't see all that happening," Flewelling said. "We're supposed to be slow and deliberate on (what are) considered longer-term things. They don't want us to be reactionary."
Follow reporter Zach Murdock at twitter.com/IPBG_Zach.