A panel considering projects for a possible Beaufort County sales-tax increase pushed back the deadline for entities to submit proposals.
The Beaufort County Sales Tax Commission agreed to push back the Feb. 1 deadline to Feb. 16 to allow late submissions from the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, Technical College of the Lowcountry and Daufuskie Island. The panel decided the public benefit merited nudging the date forward, though members of wary of requests trickling in throughout the process.
“We pay a huge amount of money to fire and police, why wouldn’t we listen to them?” commission chairman Mike Sutton said.
Commissioners will consider a list of proposals from local governments and colleges to go on the ballot in November. Beaufort County voters would then decide on whether to raise the sales tax to pay for the projects.
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Four years or $120 million was the initial framework discussed for the tax increase. The final terms should be decided only after the projects are considered, Sutton said.
The increase can go a maximum of eight years.
The process comes at a time when Beaufort County School District is considering a similar tax increase. The capital projects panel questioned Tuesday whether multiple options would dampen chances of passing.
Beaufort County and its municipalities have submitted possible capital projects and will present those to the panel in separate upcoming meetings. The county is first up on Feb. 23.
The Sheriff’s Office will ask for a “hell of a lot of money,” to replace communications and emergency management equipment, county administrator Gary Kubic said. The considerations include almost 90 aging traffic cameras that are automated and tied into emergency evacuation.
“From the viewpoint of a taxpayer considering whether or not to vote for a sales tax, public safety — particularly law enforcement and EMS — those are critical issues,” Kubic said. “People have an attachment to that.”
The county and Hilton Head Island are working to reconcile separate requests for similar work on U.S. 278. Both submitted proposals to rework the intersection on Jenkins Island at Windmill Harbour to eliminate left turns and for design work to widen and replace bridges to the islands. The town and county each had to give the panel a list of proposals and didn’t have time to coordinate before the deadline, Kubic said.
County and town staff will endorse a plan for the similar work, and the town can move forward independently with a separate request to widen 278 to three lanes from Jenkins Island to Squire Pope Road.