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Commission members voice their support for capital sales tax

Posted: October 21, 2010 5:45 p.m.
Updated: October 22, 2010 5:00 a.m.

In October of 2009, we were appointed by the Kershaw County Council to the Capital Sales Tax Commission. Over the months that followed, we worked diligently to understand exactly how the tax would work, to review 27 qualifying projects totaling over $77 million, and finally to narrow the list to eight projects as our final recommendation.

What we came to realize, and what came to inspire us, was the realization that the capital sales tax and the projects it would fund have the power to transform our county for generations to come. We were both humbled and honored to play a role in such a possibility. It is an opportunity which simply does not come along very often.

And now the same opportunity awaits Kershaw County voters on November 2nd.  Voting “yes” to the capital sales tax will set Kershaw County on a new course for progress, which will benefit our children and grandchildren as well as our friends and neighbors across the county now and in the future. And by voting “yes” to bonding the tax, we let it be known that we want to see these projects get started within the next two years.

We set high standards for the projects we would recommend. We ultimately narrowed down to projects that could improve the health and wellbeing of our citizens, increase educational opportunities, generate widespread economic opportunity, and continue to expand tourism in our county. Moreover, throughout our analysis and evaluation, we steadfastly kept our eyes focused on the children and young people of Kershaw County, realizing full well that they are our future.

And just as we as members of the commission came from all parts of Kershaw County, so we also wanted to ensure that the benefits of the tax would be felt across the county. The Recreation Department projects, for example, not only upgrade the recreation complexes in Lugoff and Camden but also include new tennis courts, ball fields, and walking tracks in Bethune, Westville, and Mt. Pisgah. A new library in Elgin would serve the citizens not only of that town but also of Lugoff. Bethune would be able move forward on a much-needed new water system.

Other projects would serve the people of the county far beyond where those projects are located. The expansion of Central Carolina Technical College’s campus in Kershaw County will give graduates from all three high schools new opportunities for higher education right here in our county, saving them both tuition and travel expenses. The college will offer dozens of study programs that lead students directly to well-paying jobs in a short period of time. It will also offer Associate in Arts and Associate in Science degrees which can be transferred to four-year colleges and universities

Not only will KershawHealth’s planned Outpatient and Urgent Care Center give area residents an alternative to going to the Emergency Room, but it will also provide better care for cancer patients in Kershaw County and better physical therapy for the increasing number of residents who need those services close to home. Similarly, the planned expansion of the South Carolina Equine Park and the development of the new Governor’s Hill Business Park will create new jobs and business opportunities across the county. And finally, the proposed Veterans Memorial in Camden will honor the dedication and sacrifice of Kershaw County residents who have answered the call of duty for generations.

But it was not just the benefit this tax could bring that made us feel good about our involvement, it was also what we learned about the tax itself and how it would work. How often can you remember voting on a tax when you knew exactly where the funds would go? This tax can be used for these projects and only these projects, all of which will be listed on the ballot in November. And most of us have the feeling that once imposed, a tax never goes away. But not this tax. By state law, it must end in eight years.

And when did you ever think a tax could be a good deal? But this one is. Experts estimate that $1 out of every $4 raised by this tax will be paid by people coming to Kershaw County to visit or work. And every project was required to have additional funding sources. Which means, when you do the math, Kershaw County residents will actually be paying only 58 percent of the total costs of all the projects through the additional sales tax. That equates to Kershaw County residents getting nearly $1.75 for every $1 they pay in this tax.

And that amounts to just $4.75 a month per Kershaw County resident over the eight years the tax would be in effect. What a small price to pay for such a big future for Kershaw County.

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