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KCC opts to furnish new funds for FAC

Posted: November 15, 2012 5:36 p.m.
Updated: November 16, 2012 5:00 a.m.

After weeks of consideration, Kershaw County Council unanimously voted Tuesday to appropriate $50,000 in accommodation tax funding for the Fine Arts Center (FAC) of Kershaw County.

FAC Director Kristin Cobb originally requested the funding during council’s September 25 meeting, but asked for $75,000.

She noted that funding derived from the county’s accommodation tax (ATAX) would help the organization complete the Jim and Pat Watts Performing Arts Wing, located on the FAC’s campus. 

Councilman Jimmy Jones, who made the motion to approve the $50,000 appropriation, described the decision as a “good return on investment,” but declined to comment on his reasoning behind dropping the level of financial support.   

Council approved the funding unanimously on a 6-0 vote with Council Chairman Gene Wise absent. Wise indicated he was dealing with a family health issue and could not attend Tuesday’s meeting. 

Council Vice Chairman Sammie Tucker Jr. explained Wednesday that council decided to drop the funding request from $75,000 to $50,000 in order to appropriate the available ATAX money more fairly.  

“We are not sure of the needs of the other organizations that are trying to get their requests in,” Tucker said, referring to other local groups seeking the type of funding. “We figured we would do the best we can while being fair to the other organizations. If there’s anything that remains, then maybe we can go back and relook at the Fine Arts Center.”

After Tuesday’s meeting, Cobb expressed no qualms with the funding variation, explaining she was “delighted” by council’s decision.

“We know the benefits it will bring to the community in terms of adding events and tourism-related activity,” Cobb said. “We’re going to continue to work hard and produce more events, more classes, and more opportunities for not only the residents of Kershaw County, but also people outside the community that help to generate that a-tax revenue.”  

According to the S.C. Department of Revenue, the ATAX is imposed on the gross proceeds derived from charges for any room, lodging, or sleeping accommodations furnished by a hotel in the area.

Before council voted to approve the proposal, Councilman Bobby Gary asked County Administrator Vic Carpenter if such a decision would fit into plans outlined by Kershaw County Tourism Director Darron Kirkley.

“Our tourism director came before us with a plan of how he would like to see the county move towards bringing in tourists,” Gary said. “Does it fit within his big spectrum of tourists coming into Kershaw County?”

Carpenter noted Kirkley, who was hired in July, couldn’t provide a complete opinion on the proposal because the county is still receiving funding requests from other entities.

“It wouldn’t be fair without having everything in front of him to look at,” Carpenter said. “But as far as this project being worthy, there’s no question. Is it in line with where we’ve been talking and talked to council about going? Absolutely.” 

Council also voted Tuesday, 5-1, to amend the county’s holiday schedule to include Christmas Eve on Dec. 24 and to cancel council’s second meeting in December, which would have been Christmas Day, Dec. 25.

Carpenter explained that before the amendment was approved, the county’s holiday schedule only included Christmas Day and Dec. 26. In light of council’s decision, the holiday schedule for county employees will now span Dec. 24-26. Carpenter also noted that law enforcement, fire service, detention center and special services employees are regularly scheduled to work during the holidays.

Jones, the only dissenting vote on the proposal, noted that many businesses would not be closed for such an extended time frame.   

Saying he didn’t want to “sound like Scrooge,” Jones stated that he felt government at times displays a “sense of entitlement” and had a problem with the Kershaw County government center being closed for three days.   

Councilman Stephen Smoak said he understood Jones’ concerns, but noted that the state of South Carolina had already declared Dec. 24-26 as state holidays.

“That prevents a lot of our county personnel from performing their jobs when the state is closed. That’s an important thing to point out,” Smoak remarked.

He also described the private sector businesses Jones mentioned as being “for-profit entities,” while the intention of county government should be to provide basic services to the public at the “lowest possible price and most efficient way.”

In other business Tuesday:

• Council unanimously approved an agreement involving the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, Central Midlands Council of Governments, Santee Lynches Council of Governments, Palmetto Utilities, Richland County, and the city of Camden related to the installation of sewer lines in an Elgin subdivision.

• Council unanimously adopted first reading of an ordinance approving the county’s comprehensive plan five-year review.

• Council unanimously approved a proclamation recognizing National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.

• Historic Camden’s Tray Dunaway made an ATAX funding request.  

• Council decided to discuss the rezoning of property on Sun Valley Drive in Elgin during a meeting scheduled for Dec. 11.

• Council decided to take no action on an agenda item that would have formalized the difference between a council resolution and a proclamation. The consensus among council was to take up the item at a later date.

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