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Beaufort County voters to decide on sales tax this November

Published: Oct. 6, 2021 at 3:55 PM EDT
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BEAUFORT COUNTY, S.C. (WTOC) - With only three towns in Beaufort County holding general elections this year, the two referendums on the county-wide ballot are the focus points for most residents.

Although the Beaufort County ballot is smaller this year than last, it’s still got people talking – specifically the optional sales tax referendum. It’s a slight increase but is estimated to bring in a good bit of money that would be returned to property owners in the area.

“The one percent increase would bring in roughly about $49 million into the county tax revenue. This is from the state of South Carolina. $32 million of that, by law, would have to be returned to residents through a property tax credit,” Chris Ophardt, with Beaufort County, said.

Percentage wise that comes down to a requirement of 71 percent of this money being returned to citizens, leaving 29 percent for local governments.

“They could use it for general operations. They could use it to expand services or to fix roads. It’s whatever they choose,” Ophardt said.

Currently, the county’s sales tax rate is 7%, but it will drop to 6% with the sunset of the penny tax from 2018 coming up. This referendum will bring it back to 7%, but this time giving a return to property owners.

Ophardt says, if voted for, it’s also got a failsafe after two years.

“This tax does not have a sunset to date; however it is repeal-able after two years by getting fifteen percent of registered voters to sign a petition and then it will go back on that ballot and voters can decide whether they got the tax relief that they sought,” Ophardt said.

Voters will decide whether they agree or disagree with it come Nov. 2.

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