UNION COUNTY — The levying of a one percent sales and use tax approved by voters Tuesday could mean as much as $500,000 a year in revenue coming from outside Union County in addition to reductions in local property taxes and the repeal of two user fees.
The ballot in Union County in Tuesday’s general election included the following question:
Must a one percent (1%) sales and use tax be levied in Union County for the purpose of allowing a credit against a taxpayer’s county and municipal ad valorem tax liability and for the purpose of funding county and municipal operations in the Union County area?
The question has appeared on the ballot in previous elections over the years and each time the voters of Union County have voted no.
On Tuesday, however, they voted yes, approving the levying of the one percent sales and use tax by a margin of 5,897 votes or 53.36 percent to 5,155 votes or 46.64 percent. Seventeen precincts voted yes while five voted no and there was a tie in the remaining precinct.
Union County Supervisor Frank Hart, a major proponent of the sales and use tax, said he was pleased with the outcome of Tuesday’s referendum.
“I’m proud of the folks in Union County, I think it is going to be a very positive thing for the county,” Hart said. “I think it is going to be a very positive thing for the county.”
With the approval of the referendum, the county will begin levying the tax on the first day of May 2017. The ordinance implementing the levy states that revenue generated by the tax will be collected in a Local Sales and Use Tax Fund for the county. The fund will consist of the Property Tax Credit Fund and the County/Municipal Revenue Fund.
The ordinance states that 71 percent of the funds collected will be allocated to the Property Tax Credit Fund and must be used for property tax relief for county taxpayers. The other 29 percent will be allocated to the County/Municipal Revenue Fund and may be used for county/municipal operations.
The SC Department of Revenue estimates that a local option sales and use tax in Union County will generate an estimated $1.2 million within the county. Of that, Union County would receive an estimated $570,840 for property tax relief and an estimated $156,600 for county operations. The county’s municipalities would would receive an estimated $281,160 for property tax relief and an estimated $191,400 for municipal operations
A property owner with a home with an assessed value of $100,000 currently has a tax liability of $862.80. Once the sales and use tax is implemented their property tax liability would be reduced by estimated $69.20 to $793.60.
Hart added that Union County Council has committed to using the entirety of the county’s share of the revenues generated for property tax relief as well as the elimination of the fees the county implemented to fund the operation of the Union County EMS.
“It is a very fair tax and the county has committed the entirety of the revenue generated for property tax relief,” Hart said. “We’ve also committed to using those funds to eliminate the user fees we put in place to support EMS.”
Hart said that another benefit of the passage of the sales and use tax is it will enable the county to receive funds from other counties that are also levying a sales and use tax. He pointed out that most counties in South Carolina have already adopted a sales and use tax and that state law allows counties that collect more than $5 million through the tax to have part of those revenues withheld for distribution to other counties.
“We will be receiving some that revenue,” Hart said. “We expect to generate $1.2 million locally and we will receive $300,000 to $500,000 from other counties.”
Hart added that another benefit of the sale and use tax is that people from outside Union County who travel through and/or visit the county will be paying the tax when they shop here generating even more revenue.
“It’s going to be very positive for us,” Hart said.