Beaufort County voters won't be asked to approve a 1-percent local-option sales tax in November.
Beaufort County Council voted 7-4 Monday against the proposed sales-tax referendum, which would have cost the county $65,000 in reserves, according to election officials.
The city of Beaufort and the town of Port Royal have passed resolutions supporting the local-option tax as a way to provide property-tax relief and bring in additional revenue. Bluffton Town Council is expected to follow suit today. Hilton Head Mayor Drew Laughlin had said he opposed it.
Some argued against holding an off-cycle election this fall, which would attract only a small fraction of voters.
Others objected to the lack of an expiration date for the sales tax. The county would have to hold another referendum to repeal it.
"This tax will most likely stay forever," Jean Beck, executive vice president of the Hilton Head Area Association of Realtors, told County Council.
Others, including County Councilman Steve Baer, said the property-tax savings for typical homeowners wouldn't offset the extra amount they would pay in sales taxes.
Supporters, including County Council Chairman Paul Sommerville, argued that for many residents, particularly in northern Beaufort County, the property-tax savings would be more than the additional cost of the sales tax.
Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling said the additional revenue would help his city after so many tight budget years.
The state law governing local-option sales taxes requires that between 63 and 71 percent of the proceeds must be set aside for property-tax relief. The remaining money would have been divided among local governments with few strings attached.
Follow reporter Tom Barton at twitter.com/IPBG_Tom