Sales tax cost
Increasing sales tax 1% will cost each family, on average, $250 to $350. Georgetown County's new 1% sales tax, that would bring the total tax to 7%, is heading toward a vote in November. Prior to 1951 there was no SC sales tax; that year it started out at 3%, which was supposed to solve most education problems. In my lifetime, SC sales tax went from 0 to 6% (higher in some places), and I'm still a young guy.
Suggestions have been made by the County Administrator and the Library Director, in support of the new increase in tax, that much of the money it raises will be paid by others — namely visitors/tourists. Estimates are that the 1% new tax will raise $5.5 million a year.
If that estimate is correct, then the current 6% sales tax raises 6 times as much, or about $33 million in the county — about $500 per citizen*. In 2007, sales tax increased from 5% to 6%; the increase was to reduce property tax paid for school operations. Following the same logic described above, that 2007 1% increase would raise about $5.5 million a year, and would provide the county school district $5.5 million. The district actually receives over $16 mi-llion a year from that source, apparently a windfall of over $10 million due to high property values, primarily on Waccamaw Neck; assessed property value is the basis for determining the tax credits that are earned from the statewide sales tax pool.
Following up on the claims that visitors/tourists will pay a chunk of the new tax, it should be noted that visitors/tourists already pay most of current local property taxes. Owner-occupied residential property owners (voters) pay only 19% of real estate taxes; the rest (80%) is paid by taxpayers owning second homes and commercial property. That second group of taxpayers pass much, if not all, of their tax bill along to, you guessed it, visitors/tourists; they have to. Visitors also pay 3% accommodations tax and 2% hospitality tax.
In real $ numbers for 2010, the county government and the school district spent $170 million between them ($109 million by the school board and $61 million by county council).
The county real estate tax portion of the $170 million was $77.6 million; $62 million (80%) of the $77.6 million was paid by second homes and commercial property; owner-occupied residential taxes were $14.8 million (19%). The $16 million a year in revenue that the school district receives (described above), brings the total money attributable to real estate value to $93.6 million. That $93.6 million plus other local, state, and federal taxes, fees, etc. brings the total money that the county and school district spends to the $170 million.
Getting back to the first statement at the beginning of this letter, the proposed 1% new tax that will raise $5.5 million; there are 60,000 county citizens ñ maybe 15,000 households (family of 4). $5.5 million spread among 15,000 households raises tax per household by $366. If visitors pay 25%, then the household tax hike is $273.
In closing, if readers don't understand or believe any of the above and it matters to you, ask your council member or school board member about it .
* SC sales tax collections (for the whole state) are just over $2 billion which is also about $500 per state resident.
Congratulations to all the nominees for the distinguished volunteer of the year award. [Sponsored by Americorps VISTA]
Clearly, all eleven volunteers are deserving of this honor and it is heartwarming to know that our community is blessed with so many dedicated people willing to make generous commitments to the betterment of the County. Although I may be accused of bias in this voting process (disclosure: I’m Tootsie’s dad), I just wanted to take this unique opportunity to inform the public of the amazing assets that therapy dogs bring to the classroom.
Internationally, research with therapy animals indicates that children with low self-esteem are often more willing to interact with an animal than another person and they are inclined to forget about their limitations. The premise of this type of program is that children will find reading to an animal less intimidating and a special time for them that is helpful and fun and will become a positive environment in which learning is facilitated.
So I am encouraging other therapy dog owners to consider using their pet’s exceptional ability in this capacity. In the same manner, I urge elementary school administrators, special needs teachers, and librarians to look into the research and the many successful programs across the country. Remarkable results have been documented and many children can now look forward to a brighter future, thanks to a furry friend who was willing to listen.
Reelecting the same people
The last time the federal budget was passed before the beginning of the fiscal year was 1994. How hard can it be to make a budget when you borrow over one-third of what you spend? There are frequent reports of politicians and bureaucrats spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on trips and entertainment. Pet projects costing millions are routinely added to unrelated legislation. If you pay taxes it is your money that is being wasted.
In each election since 1964 over 80% of House incumbents were reelected. If we keep reelecting the same people how can we expect different results? If your representative has been in office more than six years they are likely part of the problem. Do your research and vote for the challenger that you think will act in the best interest of the country instead of voting for someone whose name you recognize.
Irving B. Welchons III
Kudos for Catherine
For the first time in many years the people in South Carolina should be happy about what is happening with DHEC.
Catherine Templeton has been named as Director of DHEC with the goal of, among other things, streamlining the processes, of which there are many, and trimming the fat, which is abundant.
In this effort, she has had to fire several people and several more may have to go before the process is complete. I don’t think that any right-thinking person would disagree with cutting back any government agency, but apparently there are many who do.
In reading the many blog comments about her work you would think that the State Government is supposed to be a job corps. I realize that ever since there have been government jobs that this has pretty much been the case. But in the financial circumstances that we find ourselves in today, it has to stop, and as Director of DHEC it is her job to do just that and we should all support her in this tough and stressful endeavor.
According to the naysayers, Ms. Templeton has fired pregnant women, old men and old women, family bread winners, you name a sad case and she has seemingly made it worse. My question is this, why should government workers be immune from the hard times that millions of workers across the U.S. have faced over the past few years? The average person that she has had to fire looks much like the average worker in the private sector who has lost their job due to cut backs.
Mrs. Templeton needs our moral support in this effort. Please visit the DHEC website (www.dhec.gov), go the bottom of the page and click on the YouTube button and listen to her explain what is happening. She offers her personal e-mail address and I encourage you to give her your personal vote of support.
John Brock was complaining in his April 3d column that another newspaperman had published John’s writings and claimed them as his own. John was not flattered by this imitation, and rightly so.
I see by his April 17th column that John has figured out how to put a stop to this plagiarizing. A person would have to be pretty shameless to claim such mendacity as their own writing.
“The notion that promiscuous couples are entitled to free or subsidized contraception, abortion and other services resulting from illicit sex is beyond rational thinking.” True – so why does John (I am not a prude) Brock think this way?
Even Mojo is smarter than to reduce the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to “killing unborn babies and subsidizing frivolous sex among unmarried couples.” But then, he is just a dog, and John is a retired newspaper editor/publisher and college professor.
Tom E Stickler
Ripley’s Aquarium field trip
Students from Georgetown and Horry County Special Education Classes were fascinated by the sights and sounds at Ripley's Aquarium last week. I was filled with a sense of gratitude for Toomey’s Kids, Ted and Pat Prehodka, the organizers who made the day possible.
Field trips are a BIG DEAL for our students. Community experiences provide hands-on real life learning opportunities in social settings outside of the school buildings. Throughout the school year Toomey’s Kids funds the transportation expenses as well as admission cost to field trips for hundreds of students with diverse special needs.
Thank you Ripley’s Aquarium for making us feel so welcome and thank you Toomey’s KIds for making the adventure possible.
Special Education Teacher
The first American Legion Legacy Ride was a tremendous success. Over 80 motorcycles rode to help with the education of the children of our Heroes who have fallen since 9/11. There are so many people we need to thank for making this ride a success.
First of all to all the American Legion Chapters who participated; Columbia, Chapin, Lugoff, Rock Hill, Greenville, North Augusta, Goose Creek, Hemingway and Little River, it could not have happened without the cooperation and hard work that you put in. A special thanks to Senator Yancey McGill who sponsored a concurrent resolution for the riders and got it passed in both the Senate and the House.
We must also thank Sheriff Michael Johnson and the Williamsburg County Sheriffs office, Chief Robert Ford and the Kingstree Police Department, Chief Brian Todd and the Hemingway Police Department and Sheriff Lane Cribb and the Georgetown Sheriffs Department. These law enforcement agencies gave us an escort from the Williamsburg-Berkley county line until we entered Horry County. They made it safer and easier for us to enter our area and leave our area as one group.
I must also thank Joe Lee and the Town of Hemingway for all they did making sure that the recreation area was ready for the 60-plus motorcycles and riders that arrived Sunday afternoon. And last, but certainly not least, to all the donors who gave towards this worthy cause. There are too many to name but remember that your donation, large or small will make a difference in the education of the children of our fallen Heroes. Hemingway American Legion Riders Chapter 84 raised over $3,000 and 100% of the donations received will be applied towards the American Legion Legacy Scholarship Fund.
Grady Richardson, Director
ALRSC Chapter 84
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