FOX Carolina: Spartanburg County Penny Tax Hike to be discussed at forum
Voters in Spartanburg County will decide on a penny tax referendum on Nov. 7 to pay for the construction of several new government facilities. Those buildings include a new judicial center, municipal court/police building, emergency operations center, city/county government center and parking garages.
One of the major concerns is a mold issue in several of the facilities, which have been prone to leaks over the years. Allen Smith, President & CEO of the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce says remediation experts have determined that no matter how many times the mold is treated it will keep coming back. Smith says it’s a design issue that can only be addressed with a new building.
Smith says the facilities are technologically obsolete and they were built at a time when the population was half of what it is now. He says there are safety issues as well. At the courthouse, inmates, judges & jurors and citizens co-mingle in the same hallways because that facility isn’t big enough to keep the parties separate.
Smith believes passing the penny is the best option. “If the penny doesn’t pass there are several funding options that will be discussed, one of which unfortunately would be a property tax increase and we don’t want that. The penny expires in 6 years mandated by state statute,” says Smith.
Not all residents are supportive of raising taxes. Spartanburg resident Sam Sartor says, “I’m not in favor of the penny sales tax. I believe the county and state government has enough money to take care of all the infrastructure and items they need if they spend it properly.”
Smith points out the penny tax allows much of the cost to be picked up by non-residents. The penny sales tax doesn’t apply to groceries or prescriptions and it’s estimated that 28 to 35 percent of the cost would be covered by visitors to Spartanburg County or people passing through. The temporary sales tax increase would generate about $217 million and would end after 6 years.
A League of Women Voters forum is set for Thursday night at 7:00 p.m. at the Spartanburg Library Headquarters on Church Street.
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