The Capital Project Sales Tax Referendum – What You Need to Know Before You Vote

October 12, 2020

Less than thirty days until election day. Beyond President of the United States there’s a lot on the ballot that will directly impact Laurens County Residents.  One such item is the Capital Project Sales Tax Referendum.

The proposed Capital Project Sales Tax referendum includes $13 million worth of critical projects across the county that will have to be funded through property taxes if the sales tax fails.

For the median home value in the county, that will require a property tax increase of $33.31 per year. If that home is a rental, it will cost $49.96 per year. Property taxes will also increase $5.50 per $10,000 of appraised value for personal vehicles and $9.63 per $10,000 of appraised value for commercial vehicles (think of how this affects small businesses with multiple vehicles).

Some points of clarification:

  1. The Capital Project Sales Tax WILL NOT APPLY to
  • Groceries
  • Gas
  • Prescription drugs
  1. The referendum has a fixed life of 8 years, established by state law. It is then removed and can only be re-instated if the voters decide to implement a second round through another voter approved referendum.

3.  Does this hit every part of the county?

The tax is applied county wide and there are many projects occurring county wide such as the park renovations.  While the tax is county wide, we can expect approximately 40% of the tax to be paid for by visitors from outside the county.

  1. How were the projects selected?

There was a specific process and format for submission of projects.  16 out of the 17 projects submitted were accepted so there was about a 94% chance of getting a project approved if the process and documentation was complete.

  1. Why go the route of getting bonds? If we bond it out and solicit bids for the projects, it is anticipated that bidding on the projects will be aggressive and there may even be some cost savings.  Furthermore, interest rates are expected to remain low which is further incentive to proceed with a bond.
  2. What if there are overruns on any of the projects?

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

  1. If the referendum doesn’t pass what happens?

Many of the projects included in the referendum are critical and to get them done without the referendum, personal property taxes would need to be increased.  So, the impact would be a permanent increase in personal property tax – a burden on only those who own property.

The Capital Project Sales Tax will generate 40% of its revenue from those who live outside Laurens County. That means that 100% of Laurens County citizens will be paying for 60% of the project costs rather than 70% (property owners) paying 100% of the project costs.

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.  To see the proposals as submitted for each project click here.

If you have questions, go to the website and review the information provided including video messages from commission members.

Do your own research and be informed. The Commission will hold a Facebook Live event on Tuesday, October 13th at 7:00.  Click here for more information and then watch from home.