Penny Sales Tax Referendum to be on November General Election Ballot

September 16, 2020

When Laurens County residents cast their vote on November 3rd a referendum for a 1-cent Capital Project Sales Tax (CPST) for Laurens County will be on the ballot. The “penny sales tax” would provide funding for up to 16 proposed projects. The list of 16 projects was approved and ranked in order of importance by a six-person commission and presented to council earlier this year.

The sales tax, if adopted, would last for eight years or when $35 million dollars is raised, whichever is first.

The Department of Revenue predicts that the CPST in Laurens County would raise approximately $51 million dollars. The commission intentionally reduced the budget to $35 million to ensure against cost overruns.

Laurens County residents spent $153 million dollars in other counties which led to $13 million dollars in funding for other counties’ CPST projects. Likewise, out of county people visiting or traveling through the county spend money here.

“40% of the sales tax revenue is expected to come from out-of-county people who are visiting or traveling through the county,” said Walter Hughes III, Commission chairman. The remaining $19.6 million would be paid for by Laurens County residents. With a population of 67,493 residents as of last census, this results in each resident paying $38.89/year or $3.24/month for the CPST.

Here is a list a list of the 16 projects to be included in the CPST referendum:

  • Laurens County Parks and Recreation: Renovate and update recreational parks throughout the county to include new playground equipment, splash pads, picnic tables, and shelters. $1,727,500.
  • Clinton Regional Library: Construct a 12,000 square foot up-to-date library facility, offering books, computer access, designated children’s area, community gathering space, tutoring rooms and ample parking. $4,300,000.
  • Historic Courthouse: Restoration, repair, and renovation of the roof, exterior foundation, moisture control of the facility as well as an interior ADA compliant elevator. $3,550,766.
  • Agriculture and Business Center: Construct a multipurpose facility for public events and to house the Clemson Extension Offices. $7,983,008.
  • Fountain Inn Infrastructure Project: Upgrades to improve Exit 22 on Interstate 385 to enhance traffic flow and minimize congestion. $912,000.
  • E-911 Radio Upgrade: Purchase and upgrade all first responder radios to the Palmetto 800 standard to enable all responders to effectively communicate and coordinate responses. $2,481,496.
  • Laurens County Airport: Rebuild an efficient airport terminal to provide better services for the public and industry that will meet competitive standards in other regional Airports. $500,000.
  • Veterans’ Monuments and Memorial Park: Establish a memorial park at the Laurens County Library with monuments dedicated to the branches of the military. $414,200.
  • LCWSC Water Tower: Replaces the water tower in Hickory Tavern to increase capacity for more efficient operations of infrastructure and for future development. $1,994,755.
  • Martha Dendy Community Center: Improve and expand the capabilities for adult education, tutoring, and community enrichment at the former Martha Dendy School. $756,000.
  • Laurens County EMS Medic 1 Renovation: Renovate the current Medic 1 Center on Exchange Drive to improve services and response times, $314,500.
  • Laurens County Animal Shelter: Renovate the animal shelter to include an HVAC system, reduce harmful noise, and allow safer handling of animals, $280,000.
  • Laurens County Trails Association: Construct a walking/biking/hiking trail in and around Laurens County Hospital to become a part of the Swamp Rabbit Trail. $380,000.
  • Town of Gray Court Park: Construct the first phase of a park complex for ball fields and recreation. $891,220.
  • City of Clinton Infrastructure: Repair of certain streets, relocation of utility boxes, and repair certain aging water and sewage lines. $6,528,443
  • Laurens County Sheriffs’ Evidence Storage Facility: Construct a facility with climate control features for storing evidence, multi-year records, and mandatory court evidence. $1,964,250.

There are some critical need projects in the list, that if not funded by the CPST they are likely to be paid for through property taxes.  Millage rates have increased by 17% over the last 10 years.

Any project cost overruns are the responsibility of the submitting organization not the taxpayer.

To see the proposals as submitted for each project click here.  More information will be provided in the coming weeks.