County Council Considers Bluffton Parkway Tax - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

05/10/05

County Council Considers Bluffton Parkway Tax

Don't you hate sitting in traffic? But in some places, like on Highway 278 in southern Beaufort County, there's just no way around it.

Now there might be hope. But are you willing to pay for it? County council is considering a plan for road construction that could get you out of a real jam.

Golf courses are among the many amenities that attracts thousands of tourists to Beaufort County every year, but now it could cost more to hit the greens. The county council is considering adding 2 1/2 percent admission fees at golf courses, concerts, sporting events, and other amusement places, all to help fund road projects like the completion of the Bluffton Parkway.

"Based on the activities that would be subject to the fee, a substantial portion of it would be paid by tourists," said Weston Newton, chairman of the Beaufort County Council.

Although no one wants to pay more taxes, many say it's better than the alternative, which is increased property taxes.

"I'd prefer to pay 2.5 percent tax, because you're paying as you use something rather than some people being penalized when they don't use them," said county resident David Tirard. "We have a lot of visitors coming in who use all of our facilities and wear them out, so why shouldn't they pay a little themselves?"

But others say this tax could drive tourists away. "To put taxes on their entertainment or their incentive to coming doesn't seem responsible," said resident Dick Boehlert.

So will it stop visitors from spending their money? "Probably not, but I wouldn't like it," said tourist Lisa Spencer.

"To make sure my kids had a good time, I would pay the extra 2.5 percent tax," noted Lisa Hordon of Hardeeville.

This proposal still has to go through the finance committee and then back to the full council two more times before it's approved. But if they do approve it, the fees would add up to about $1.7 million a year, which would help the Bluffton Parkway project move forward.

Reported by: Jaime Dailey, jdailey@wtoc.com

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