– By Tiffani Ireland –
A public hearing was held Wednesday, Jan. 8, at the Edgefield County Council Chambers to discuss suggestions for possible projects to be included in the proposed 1% Capital Sales Tax Project. A little over a dozen citizens were in attendance as different people and organizations presented ideas to the six-member committee charged with choosing projects that will be included in the sales tax project. Committee members include Thomas McCain, Sr. (Chairman), Craig McMullen (Vice Chairman), Jeff Britt, Donna Livingston, Thomas Nidiffer, and Berth Worth. Organizations represented at the meeting included the Edgefield County Civic League, the Westside, Trenton, and Merriwether Fire Departments, the Edgefield County Hospital, and the Edgefield Cemetery Association.
In their address to the committee, the Civic League asked that they consider the need for improvements to the Genealogical Society’s building. The estimated costs for this project was listed as $49,000. Bobby Allen spoke on behalf of the Westside and Merriwether Fire Departments mentioning a need for a centralized training center for firefighters. The cost for such a facility was approximated at $700,000. He also referenced concerns over the distance between fire stations and asked that consideration be given to the addition of a third repeater site for the county’s radio system. However, no cost figures were mentioned with these items. The hospital asked for $250,000 for the start-up of a Merriwether practice, and the Edgefield Cemetery Association asked that consideration be given to allocating $125,000 toward the restoration of Willowbrook Cemetery. Roger LeDuc spoke on behalf of the town of Trenton and asked that expansion and improvements to the Trenton Fire Department, estimated to cost $70,000, be another project considered.
Justin Guy addressed the committee and proposed that $10,000 worth of improvements to Edgefield’s pottery building be considered for inclusion as a sales tax project. Other citizens who addressed the committee raised concerns over the timeline associated with the sales tax project. Roy Blackwell suggested that the project be postponed to 2016 to allow the committee more time in choosing projects. Several others in attendance concurred with the need to postpone the sales tax project’s deadline, which is set for April 2013. Another citizen addressed the committee and asked them, in their consideration of projects to chose, to consider which projects will actually bring jobs and growth to the county.
The committee has until April 1, 2013, to present projects to the Edgefield County Council for the proposed 1% Capital Sales Tax Project. Chosen projects and their costs must be specifically laid out in this presentation. At that point, Council may either accept or reject the committee’s proposals. However, Council must accept or deny the entire proposal presented to them; they cannot chose to keep one project and reject another. If Council accepts the committee’s proposal, the projects and their associated costs will be added to the November 2014 ballot. Voters will then have the option of choosing whether a 1% sales tax will be added to all items sold within Edgefield County, including gas but excluding unprepared food, in order to pay for these projects. Again, this is an all or nothing decision. Voters will vote to either accept all the projects on the ballot or to reject them all.
The Capital Sales Tax Project Committee’s next meeting, a work session, is scheduled for Jan. 28 at 6:00 at the Edgefield County Council Chambers. The committee also plans to hold meetings throughout the different communities within Edgefield County, although dates for these meetings have yet to be announced. For more information on this matter or on upcoming meetings, please contact County Administrator Lynn Strom at 637-4000.