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In June 2017, the Spartanburg County Capital Penny Sales Tax Commission provided a report and recommendation to County Council regarding the use of a one-cent capital sales tax for six years to pay for a new Judicial Center, Municipal Court/Police Building, Emergency Operations Center, Judicial Center parking garage, City/County Government Center, and a Government Center parking garage. Any funds remaining after the project construction would be used for improvements to local roads and bridges.

 

The question will be on the November 7, 2017 general election ballot.

 

When will the additional one cent sales tax begin, and when would it end?
If approved by the voters, the one cent sales tax would begin May 1, 2018 and end April 30, 2024.

 

Does the additional one cent sales tax apply to all sales?
No. The one cent sales tax would not apply to unprepared food (groceries), prescription medicines, certain maximum tax items such as automobiles, and sales of personal property otherwise exempt from State sales tax.

 

Why is a New Judicial Center being Proposed?
According to the May 2017 report by Justice Planning Associates, Inc:

  • The Spartanburg County Judicial Center, which opened in 1958, is overcrowded and does not meet modern standards with respect to security or technology.
  • The building is unable to provide separate and secure zones for the public, prisoners, judges, jurors, and court staff. This creates a safety issue, as well as potentially compromises the integrity of the judicial process.
  • The building opened in 1958 with 3 courtrooms, and over time, that number has grown to 14 courtrooms. The added courtrooms are located in converted office space, with inadequate room dimensions and low ceiling heights.
  • The majority of problems cannot be fixed within the existing facility, regardless of the amount of money spent.

 

Other specific issues:

  • Overcrowded public and staff spaces
  • Most Courtrooms do not meet recommended standards
  • Inaccessible spaces for some members of the public, including witness stands, jury boxes, and jury deliberation room toilets
  • Lack of conferencing and victim waiting spaces near courtrooms
  • Prisoner detention spaces do not meet modern detention standards
  • Inadequate heating, ventilation, air conditioning, plumbing, and electrical systems
  • The buildings around the existing Judicial Center are also inadequate and cannot continue to support justice system functions. These buildings exhibit similarly poor spatial, operational, and physical conditions as the Judicial Center.
  • It has been recommended that the new Judicial Center remain on the existing site, and that any functions which support that building, or have a direct relationship, also be located on that site.
  • The building has experienced water intrusion problems in the past which the County has attempted to correct, but which are likely to continue to occur due to the building’s age and construction.

 

Why is a new City/County Government Complex being proposed?

The existing City Hall and the County Administration Building, both constructed in the early 1960s, are more than 50 years old. Both facilities were built prior to modern codes and standards. Both facilities have physical issues that impact operating requirements. Those issues include: inappropriate accessibility for mobility-impaired persons; insufficient power and data supply for modern technology; and inadequate heating, ventilation, and cooling.

  • The County Administration Building is a former Sears Department store, which was adapted for governmental use. Although the building has served its purpose for approximately 30 years, there are issues with respect to public service, security, and availability of natural light. The building is experiencing structural problems to include water leaks and adequate ventilation. The most overcrowded spaces are those with the highest volume of public contact, such as the Assessor, Auditor, and Treasurer. The crowded conditions can result in extended wait times and loss of confidentiality.
  • Nearly all components in the City Hall are suffering from some degree of overcrowding, with the Police Department and Municipal Court in particularly inadequate space. Due to differences in the nature of operations, functions such as the Police Department, Fire Department, and Municipal Court are not typically co-located with general governmental administrative functions, such as the City Council, Mayor, and Finance.

 

How is the referendum question worded on the ballot?

How much revenue is estimated to be generated by an additional one cent sales tax annually?

According to the South Carolina Revenue and Fiscal Affairs office, the additional one cent sales tax would generate approximately $37,421,097.00 per year. This estimate is prior to any adjustments made by the South Carolina Department of Revenue for administrative expenses.

 

Must a special one percent sales and use tax be imposed in Spartanburg County (the “County”) for 6 years to raise the amounts specified for the following purposes:

Priority
No.

Project Description

Cost

1

Replacement of current City of Spartanburg and Spartanburg County judicial facilities
(to include a new Spartanburg County Courthouse, City of Spartanburg municipal court/police facilities, Spartanburg County emergency operations center (currently located in the basement of the County Courthouse), and associated parking and infrastructure, in one or more structures)

$ 151,519,154

2

Replacement of current City of Spartanburg City Hall and Spartanburg County Administrative Building
(to include new joint use government center facilities to serve both the City of Spartanburg and Spartanburg County, and associated parking and infrastructure, in one or more structures)

65,326,428

3

Road and Bridge Projects
(to include the then highest priority projects identified in the County’s Capital Improvement Plan after taking into account the availability of State and other funds)

7,554,418

Total

$ 224,400,000

and pending the receipt of such sales and use tax, must the County also be authorized to issue and sell, either as a single issue or as several separate issues, general obligation bonds (the “Bonds”) of the County in an aggregate principal amount not exceeding $217,000,000, to defray the costs of the projects listed above plus issuance costs, to be paid from the sales and use tax to be imposed as stated herein and pledged to the payment of the principal of and interest on the Bonds, and, in the event such sales and use tax is inadequate, such bonds shall be payable from a sufficient ad valorem tax imposed on all taxable property in the County?

CONDITIONS AND RESTRICTIONS ON THE USE OF SALES AND USE TAX REVENUE COLLECTED UNDER THE CAPITAL PROJECTS SALES TAX ACT: The capital projects sales and use tax and any related Bond proceeds shall be used and expended for procurement, design, engineering, project management, construction and/or improvement of the projects listed above, including payment of such sums as may be required in connection with the issuance of Bonds. Net proceeds of the capital project sales and use tax or the proceeds of any related bonds, if approved, must be expended for the purposes stated, in the priority listed above. The expenditures of revenues from the capital projects sales and use tax or the proceeds of any related bonds, if approved, shall be subject to acquisition of property, rights-of-way, design and engineering considerations, the receipt of all necessary permits and regulatory approvals, funding of projects from other sources (including unanticipated grants that fund a project), bids in excess of project estimates, qualifications of bidders, cost overruns, financing costs, exhaustion or insufficiency of net sales and use tax revenues or Bond proceeds to complete the projects in the order and priority stated above, and other unforeseen circumstances and conditions. In the event any of the foregoing affect any project, the County Council shall, by ordinance, make findings regarding the same before funding a lesser priority project. Nothing herein shall prevent the simultaneous funding of multiple projects consistent with each project’s designated priority.

INSTRUCTIONS TO VOTERS: All qualified electors of the County desiring to vote in favor of imposing the tax for the stated purposes and authorizing the issuance and sale of Bonds in connection therewith as outlined above and subject to the limitations and conditions set forth above shall vote “YES”, and all qualified electors opposed to levying the tax and issuing such Bonds shall vote “NO”.

 

Is there a requirement to word the ballot question in this manner?

Yes. State law outlines the requirements for the question to be asked in this manner. The conditions and restrictions section was added by the Capital Project Sales Tax Commission to explain and require that the projects must be funded in the priority order indicated in the question and to provide more detail regarding the scope of the project.

 

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