I just received a flier paid for by a group calling themselves “Pennies for Progress.” These folks are promoting the newly proposed county sales tax. I am afraid that I find it somewhat misleading.
First, the information reduces the amount of tax to be paid from $44 million to just a few pennies in order to mislead readers about the impact that this will have on the less fortunate in our county. Calling this a “fair tax” is correct only if you think that it is fair for the elderly, the indigent, the working poor and the many in our county who are below the poverty line to pay an additional tax in these trying times, or at any time for that matter. For starters, those who can’t afford a car shouldn’t pay to pave 31 roads, but everyone who spends money in Georgetown County will pay. We already have a $30 county vehicle fee that is supposed to pay for this. Another good question to ask is what is the average income level of those using all of the libraries that are intended to be built or expanded? From the looks of the vehicles in the parking lot I would guess that most are above the poverty line. Yes I know that there are after school programs, and all of that, but I think that you get my point.
The flier points out that if you shop at Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Wal-Mart or anywhere else in Horry County you are already paying additional tax that does not benefit Georgetown County. This is true, but so what? If Georgetown County passes an addition sales tax we will still be shopping at Lowe’s, Home Depot and Wal-Mart in Horry County, paying additional tax and it still won’t benefit Georgetown County. The difference is that when we get home we will still be paying that additional tax.
The list of priorities for the spending of the new tax money is headed by “Port Dredging.” This has been a much publicized issue and is probably the best case for spending money at this time. But it only accounts for a little over $5 million of the $44 million. We (the county) have over $60 million in savings right now. Write the check for the $5 million and let’s get on with it!
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Also addressed in the flier, although not clearly, is the question of bonds. It states, “State law allows the sales tax proceeds to be used to service debt associated with the projects.” Another, more clear way of saying the same thing is “State law allows the county to borrow $44 million and pay for all of the projects at one time and then pay it back with the sales tax, instead of a pay as you go scenario.” Can anyone tell me in what financial condition this country, or country, will be in two years? How about eight years? How about your own financial security? How are you feeling about that today?
If the tax has to be voted on, why not wait until the midterm 2014 election cycle when we have a better idea of what our future holds? This election year is much too uncertain to be considering an additional tax. Don’t hold us hostage with the port dredging. Pay for it now and let’s help get the local economy going.
The writer lives in Murrells Inlet.