County Council gave second reading Tuesday night to putting a one-cent sales tax referendum on the November ballot.
About 20 people spoke during the public comment period of tonight's meeting, most urging Council to not put the referendum on the ballot.
The vote was 5-2 in favor, with Council Members Bob Anderson and Ron Charlton voting no. A final decision on the referendum will be made at Council's next meeting on August 14.
A commission appointed by Council spent months deciding on the language of the referendum and coming up with a list of $40 million in projects to be funded by the tax.
If the referendum is approved in November, the additional one cent would be charged only on things that are already taxed at 6 percent.
The new tax would begin May 1 and continue for eight years. By state law, the county would have to hold another referendum to extend the one-cent tax after that time.
It is estimated that 27 percent of the revenue would come from visitors, and people who don’t live in the county, but work or shop here.
A group of Waccamaw Neck residents planned to meet at the Waccamaw Library before the Council meeting to organize their opposition, and then speak during the public comment portion of Council’s meeting.
At a meeting Monday night, Pawleys Island Town Council unanimously passed a resolution in opposition to the new tax.
Pawleys Town Council joined the Pawleys Island Civic Association in voicing opposition to the new tax.
Pawleys Island Mayor Bill Otis said tourists already pay 10 percent in taxes when they rent a vacation home or stay in a hotel room in Georgetown County. That would increase to 11 percent if the plan passes.
He said Georgetown County is competing with the beaches of North Carolina and Florida — and places such as Charleston — for tourists and tourist dollars.
“Every one percent that is added puts us at a competitive disadvantage,” Otis said right before the council vote.
Staff writer Scott Harper contributed to this story.
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