Proposed Taxes for 2024 Referendum
Georgetown County voters will be asked to vote on two proposed 1% sales taxes during the November 2024 General Election. A Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) and a Capital Project Sales Tax (CPST) were proposed by Georgetown County Council at their October 24, 2023 meeting. Both would shift some of the tax burden for services and projects from county residents to visitors.
If approved, the taxes would go into effect in May 2025 and would each add a 1-cent tax on every $1 spent on items subject to sales tax. Groceries, prescriptions and other items exempt from the state’s 6% sales tax would also be exempt from the additional 1% taxes. A list of exempted items can be found on the South Carolina Department of Revenue's website.
Included on this page is information to help voters make a well-informed decision when they go to the polls in November 2024.
Local Option Sales Tax (LOST)
A LOST is imposed by counties for the specific purpose of reducing the property tax burden for residents. It is authorized under S.C. Code Section 4-10-10. This tax is a general sales and use tax on all sales at retail (with a few exceptions) taxable under the state sales and use tax.
How would the funds be used?
County officials project the tax would generate approximately $10 million per year, of which 71% would go directly to property tax rollbacks. Taxes on both primary and secondary residences, including those within municipalities, would receive rollbacks. The remaining 29% of revenue generated can be used for government operations and projects. Essentially, it would spread out the cost of government operations among more people by allowing visitors -- and even those just passing through -- to pay a share.
“It’s a way to just make living here more affordable and take some of the burden off of the homeowner,” said County Administrator Angela Christian. “It will allow visitors to share the burden of the cost of providing services, not to just our citizens, but with all the visitors and tourists and everybody else who comes to our community.”
What other SC counties have a LOST?
Thirty-two of the state's 46 counties already have a LOST.
|July 1, 1991||Charleston, Colleton, Hampton, Jasper, Marion and McCormick|
|May 1, 1992||Abbeville, Allendale, Bamberg, Edgefield, Lancaster, Marlboro and Saluda|
|May 1, 1994||Chester and Florence|
|May 1, 1995||Pickens|
|May 1, 1996||Dillon, Lee and Sumter|
|May 1, 1997||Berkeley, Chesterfield, Clarendon, Darlington, Kershaw and Williamsburg|
|May 1, 1999||Barnwell and Laurens|
|May 1, 2005||Richland and Calhoun|
|May 1, 2006||Fairfield|
|May 1, 2009||Cherokee|
|May 1, 2017||Union|
Capital Project Sales Tax (CPST)
This 1% local sales and use tax is used to fund specific capital projects such as roads, bridges, public facilities, recreation facilities, and water and sewer projects. This tax may be imposed in addition to all other Sales & Use Taxes to pay the debt service on bonds issued for various capital projects in the counties that impose the tax. The tax would be in place for a defined period approved by voters.
How would the funds be used?
Projects to be funded with a new CPST have not yet been selected. The projects this tax revenue can be used for and the process for deciding on the projects is strictly governed by S.C. Code 4-10-300. A commission must first be appointed to create a proposed list of projects, which must also be approved by taxpayers as part of the referendum.
How is the commission selected and what is its purpose?
County Council in conjunction with the County's three municipalities -- the Towns of Andrews and Pawleys Island, and the City of Georgetown -- will appoint a six-person commission to identify the capital projects to be included in the referendum, to prioritize the projects and to formulate the referendum question that will appear on the ballot. The six members are required by law to represent the municipalities and geographic regions of the county.
For more information on how state law governs the creation of this commission and how members are appointed, please refer to S.C. Code Section 4-10-320.
Two individuals were appointed to the commission by the City Council of Georgetown at its November 9, 2023 meeting:
- Lawrence Harris Chewning
- William R. Tiller
County Council appointed three individuals to serve on the CPST Commission at its November 14, 2023 meeting:
- Gary C. Cooper, Jr.
- Robert E. Crenshaw
- Ashley K. Nelson
The final member of the commission is yet to be appointed as of November 15, 2023.
When will the commission make its recommendation on projects?
The commission is expected to have its first meeting in December 2023. The commission's recommendations would be presented to County Council by the end of April, 2024.
What happened to the funds from the County's last CPST?
Georgetown County Voters previously approved a CPST in 2014 which raised $41 million over its four-year lifespan, funding projects including road resurfacing, dredging in Murrells Inlet and fire service enhancements. More than 100 road resurfacing projects were completed with the funds, including state- and municipally-maintained roads, as well as county roads. Two projects that were to be funded with the funds have not yet been able to be completed: Dredging of Winyah Bay and a new building to house police and fire operations in the Town of Andrews.
In December of 2019, the dredging of Winyah Bay was "deemed to be no longer viable or economically beneficial for our area by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the S.C. Ports Authority" due to an exponential increase in the cost of dredging. As a result, the $6 million earmarked for that project is still available while other options are explored.
The $1.5 million earmarked for the Town of Andrews was made available to the Town, plus an additional $1.5 million. The project has not been completed.
The 2014 CPST raised more money than was anticipated and those funds were assigned to additional projects that qualify for CPST funds, as dictated by state law.
What other SC counties have a CPST?
|May 1, 1998||York|
|May 1, 1999||Newberry and Orangeburg|
|May 1, 2001||Aiken|
|May 1, 2007||Florence|
|May 1, 2009||Allendale, Chester and Lancaster|
|May 1, 2013||Bamberg, Lee and Marion|
|May 1, 2015||Colleton|
|May 1, 2017||Allendale, Barnwell, Greenwood, Horry, McCormick and Williamsburg|
|May 1, 2018||Spartanburg|
|May 1, 2019||Calhoun and Saluda|
|May 1, 2021||Edgefield and Laurens|