UNION COUNTY — The Capital Projects Sales Tax Commission has launched its own Facebook page with the goal of informing the public about its mission, publicizing upcoming community meetings, and receiving comments online.
Commission Chair Michelle Betenbaugh said Monday that the name of the Commission’s Facebook page is “Capital Project Sales Tax, Union, SC.” Betenbaugh said the Facebook page includes a message explaining the purpose and goal of the Commission which was established by Union County Council to gather public input on what the revenue generated by a proposed 1-Cent Capital Project Sales Tax would be used for. She said the Facebook page is also designed to keep the public informed about the dates, times, and locations of the community meetings the Commission will be holding in the months ahead to get that input from residents throughout Union County. As with other Facebook pages, Betenbaugh said the Commission’s Facebook page will also provide the public with the opportunity to comment online.
The Capital Project Sales Tax Commission was established by Union Council to get the question of a 1-Cent Capital Project Sales Tax on the 2020 ballot.
The 1-cent Capital Project Sales Tax would be levied for eight years and is projected to generate approximately $2.5 million year which would be used for capital improvement projects.
Before it could be levied, however, the 1-cent Capital Project Sales Tax would first have be approved by the voters of Union County in a referendum which would be held this November and not only would voters have to approve the tax itself, they would also have to decide what the revenue generated by the tax would be used for.
The commission’s task will be to go around to the incorporated municipalities and unincorporated communities of Union County and get public input on what the revenue should be spent on. From that input the commission will develop a list of capital improvement projects to place on the referendum ballot. If the tax is approved by the voters, the revenue generated by it can only be used during the eight years it is in effect on that list of capital improvement projects.
At the end of eight years, the tax will expire unless voters approve levying it again in a referendum at that time. As in the case of the 2020 referendum, that referendum would also include of a list of capital projects developed from the input of voters throughout the county collected by the commission that would be appointed to collect that information at the time.
The Commission held its first meeting on Thursday, January 16, during which Betenbaugh was elected Chair, John Gregory Vice Chair, and Timika Wilson Secretary. The current membership also includes Jami Trammell and Allison Coker.
The ordinance authorizing the creation of the commission requires that three of its members represent Union County, two represent the City of Union, and a sixth member represent Jonesville, Carlisle and Lockhart, the county’s other incorporated municipalities. Trammell, Gregory, and Wilson are the county’s representatives on the commission while Coker and Betenbaugh are the city’s representatives. The sixth member will be selected by Coker and Betenbaugh to represent Jonesville, Carlisle, and Lockhart.
During the January 16 meeting, which was attended by Union County Supervisor Frank Hart, the commission discussed plans to gather input from the public about how the Capital Project Sales Tax revenue would be used. They decided to hold town hall meetings in the incorporated municipalities as well as public meetings at the county’s various fire departments. After discussing the matter with Hart, the commission tentatively plans to have the required information ready to present to Union County Council by June 30.
It was also during that meeting that the Commission decided that, in order to help fully publicize their efforts and more fully solicit public comments, they would set up a Facebook page.
The Commission held its second meeting Friday, January 24, during which Betenbaugh said the launch of its Facebook page was announced. She said that in the weeks ahead information about the upcoming community meetings would be added to the page and that the Commission is looking at other ways to publicize those meetings in order to maximize participation and input from the public.
Currently, 23 other South Carolina counties have approved the levying of a Capital Projects Sales Tax in their counties including Newberry, Chester, Spartanburg, York, Saluda, and McCormick and have re-approved it every seven years.
Proponents point out that, in addition to funding needed capital improvements, a major advantage of the tax is that people from other counties who shop in Union County will be helping pay it when they make a purchase at a local store.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.