On Nov. 2 our county leadership is asking you to vote “yes” for a penny sales tax referendum to fund projects throughout the county. Now, a lot of these projects are in fact worthwhile, but are they necessities? With our unemployment rate at 11.1 percent at the end of August 2010, and incomes way down for most of our citizens, is this the right time to increase sales tax for Kershaw County? Currently, South Carolina has a sales tax rate of 6 percent across the state but Kershaw County has a 7 percent sales tax rate and is asking you to vote for an additional 1 percent, making our county sales tax rate 8 percent. To top that off, the city of Camden has a hospitality tax of 2 percent on prepared foods and hotels, which means if the penny sales tax referendum is passed and if you stop at a restaurant in Camden you will be charged 10 percent on your meal. What kind of an effect will this have on our restaurant business in Camden once the citizens figure this out? Heck, our county has not even stepped up to the plate to become transparent as required by state law.
While our county government wants to raise our taxes, we do not even know what our federal government will do in the area of taxes. Remember Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), speaker of the House, failed to settle the tax rate issue prior to going out on recess, so we have no idea prior to Nov. 2 what we will be required to pay. Let’s not forget what is on the table for possible tax increases like Cap and Trade and Nancy Pelosi’s 1 percent financial transaction fee which is currently in committee; both of these issues would have devastating effects on our economy and would have a very negative impact on our unemployment numbers.
Our very own Congressman John Spratt (D-SC), chair of the finance committee, has failed to produce a budget which is required by law. If Spratt had produced this budget it would show us, the American people, the projected budgets for the next five years and just how much money Obama and the Democrats have spent, but he did not. We are in the dark as we are asked to make a vote for a tax increase. None of us even know what the health care bill will do to our pocket book. To make it even more complicated, we have a governor’s race and with the state of South Carolina having to start off in a deficit, the possibility of a state income tax increase is very real.
So is now the time to consider a 1 percent sales tax -- “the Penny Sales Tax Referendum”? I would say no. I am voting no on Nov. 2 and I am asking you to do the same.