Georgetown County Council passed resolutions on Oct. 24 to move ahead with plans to put in place two new sales taxes: a Local Option Sales Tax and a Capital Project Sales Tax.
Both options would require the public’s approval at the ballot box in 2024. Both would also shift some of the tax burden from county residents to visitors. If approved, the taxes would go into effect in May 2025.
If referendums for both taxes pass, each would 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 Local Option Sales Tax, better known as LOST, is imposed by counties for the specific purpose of reducing the property tax burden for residents. 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.
“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.”
Thirty-two of the state’s 46 counties already have a LOST in place.
Residents who have lived in Georgetown County for a few years are probably already familiar with the Capital Project Sales Tax. Voters approved one in 2014 and it raised $41 million over its four-year lifespan, funding projects including road resurfacing, dredging in Murrells Inlet and fire service enhancements.
Projects to be funded with a new CPST have not yet been selected. County Council must first appoint a committee to create a proposed list of projects, which has to be approved by taxpayers as part of the referendum. The types of projects that can be included are limited by state law and would include things such as highways and roads, new facilities, water and sewer projects, flood control projects, stormwater facilities, dredging, beach accesses and beach renourishment.
Plans are for council to make committee appointments during its Nov. 14 meeting. The committee would then have its first meeting in December and would present recommendations to Council by the end of April.
The full discussion from the Oct. 24 meeting can be viewed on the County’s YouTube Channel.
PowerPoint presented to County Council at Oct. 16 workshop