The Beaufort County Board of Education should not seek a half-billion-dollar sales tax increase as proposed by Superintendent Jeff Moss.
The tax hike of 1 cent on the dollar has been proposed for 10 years or 15 years. Either one seeks too much money for the school district.
The district should instead focus on a tighter, more realistic target: providing classroom space for an anticipated 3,000 new students coming to Bluffton.
Another portion of the plan is unsettling. The school district would collect the sales tax, then start fiddling with property taxes. The plan to hike the sales tax and reduce the property tax is complicated, unnecessary, and outside what should be the purview of the school board. As a rule, swapping taxes of different types is foolish and can result in unintended consequences.
Also of concern, the plan calls for the school district to dole part of its new revenue to other entities — the University of South Carolina Beaufort and Technical College of the Lowcountry. That, too, is unnecessary.
The school district already has too much on its plate. Collecting too much sales tax and acting as a bank for numerous other endeavors is foolish.
A “temporary” sales tax of that duration would also hamper efforts to meet other local needs.
Already, the proposal, which has had precious little public discussion by the school board, is interfering with plans by Beaufort County and local municipalities to consider a sales tax hike for capital projects. By the school district collecting well more than it needs, other community improvements could languish. Over the years, temporary sales tax hikes of three years or so have served Beaufort County well. We’d hate to see that option closed for 15 years while the school board takes in well more than it needs.