You might be able to avoid traffic jams on Hilton Head Island.
Daufuskie Island could become easier for visitors to access.
Local law enforcement and emergency personnel could communicate on state-of-the-art devices.
Sounds great, right?
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Well, all of those things cost money. And if they come to pass, you’re going to have to pay for it.
A panel is considering a host of projects put forth by local governments and organizations, that, if ultimately approved, would add a penny of sales tax to every dollar spent in Beaufort County.
The Beaufort County Capital Sales Tax Commission met Tuesday to hear project proposals from the county, the Daufuskie Island Council and the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office.
The commissioners are knee-deep in a months-long process of evaluating these proposals and deciding which to put on the ballot in November.
Beaufort County voters would then decide on whether to raise the sales tax by 1 percent for four years to pay for the projects.
Here are the major projects presented to the commission Tuesday:
$20 million for U.S. 278 widening
$10 millionfor new emergency services communications devices
$1 millionfor new Daufuskie Island ferry
County officials are looking for $20 million for a series of projects that would widen U.S. 278 and alleviate traffic getting on and off Hilton Head Island.
County engineering director Rob McFee said Tuesday that these projects “demonstrate a need and not a want” and would be “a significant benefit to taxpayers and visitors.”
The county has potential capital sales tax funds earmarked for engineering the process of widening the U.S. 278 bridge onto Hilton Head Island from four lanes to six.
Other projects would widen the road and add side streets to help drivers access Pinckney Island and Windmill Harbour, which is currently “very difficult to make a left (turn) out of,” McFee said.
Daufuskie Island Council members asked Tuesday for the consideration of $1 million to buy and refurbish a ferry to get visitors and residents on and off the island.
Councilman Chuck Hunter said “we have no bridge to our island” and that the two current ferry operators are inadequate.
A new ferry, which would hold about 40 passengers, “would be a big step for making (the island) a safer place, bringing tourists, giving island residents the ability to work off-island, and giving (people who don’t live there) the opportunity to work on-island” he said.
Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office
The Sheriff’s Office’s top priority for capital sales tax revenue is overhauling the communication system for all county law enforcement and emergency service agencies.
Sheriff P.J. Tanner proposed a plan that would spend more than $10 million on more than new 600 radios, nearly 1,000 new walkie-talkies and more than 300 new in-car computers.
“Our radios are getting close to the end of their life,” and warranties for replacement parts are nearing expiration, which “is a bad spot to be in,” he said.
While the commissioners appeared impressed with Tuesday’s presentations, chairman Mike Sutton gave no guarantees as to which projects might make their way onto the ballot.
“There is no chance (the committee will make any decisions) today about whether (a particular) project makes the list or doesn’t make the list,” he said.
The commission will hear funding requests in the coming weeks from other county municipalities, as well as the Technical College of the Lowcountry and the University of South Carolina Beaufort.
Consideration of these requests comes at a time when the Beaufort County School District is mulling putting a 1 percent sales tax increase before voters. Money raised from that tax would be used for school construction and improvements.